UNICEF commended the government for passing various laws and regulations in support of mental health care in Zimbabwe, including the Mental Health Act and Mental Health Strategy, and the Mental Health and psychosocial support in the recognition of mental health.
Statistics indicate that two-thirds of children in Zimbabwe have experienced violent discipline and are vulnerable to mental health issues.
Mental health disorders are one of the top five causes of the country’s high disease burden.
Speaking at the World Day of Action for Mental Health last Thursday, UNICEF Representative Dr Tajudeen Oyewale said mental health issues were impacting many children and adolescents in Zimbabwe in as many forms of violence against children.
He said more than two-thirds of children in the country experience some form of violent discipline and more than one-third of girls suffer sexual abuse before their 18th birthday.
“We commend the government for the initiatives taken and the work done on mental health. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Department of Health and Child Welfare and its partners to further increase the attention and support for mental health care for children and adolescents.
“Mental health issues, especially when they relate to children and adolescents, are still taboo in many societies, including Zimbabwe. There is an urgent need to break the silence around mental health,” he said. he declares.
He also said that abuse, neglect and other negative childhood experiences are major preventable causes of poor mental health.
The Covid-19 pandemic and containment measures have exacerbated protection risks among children and adolescents, contributing to the increase in mental health problems.
He added that school closures and the loss of learning opportunities for more than 4.5 million children in Zimbabwe have also had an impact on mental health.
In response to the psychosocial distress induced by Covid-19, the Government of Zimbabwe, with the support of UNICEF and other partners, has also mobilized and built the capacity of health practitioners to offer psychosocial support in first aid.
Psychosocial support has been included in the assistance provided at Covid-19 centers across the country. In addition, Zimbabwe produced mental health awareness materials which were aired on radio and television.
UNICEF is also calling on all relevant stakeholders to pay greater attention to the mental health of children and adolescents and to invest more in parenting programmes, as parents and guardians can provide much-needed safety and security so that children and adolescents thrive and thrive.
UNICEF Zimbabwe is launching a campaign to promote public debate on child and adolescent mental health, including through a series of radio talk shows, new mental health content on its website in free internet access to the good stuff and a survey on its U-Report social messaging platform.
It is estimated that 60% of mental health cases in the country are due to substance abuse.