• Tadiwa Jayaguru

Mental Health: Suffering in Silence

Updated: Oct 18, 2021

Senior Reporter




Many Harare residents are suffering from mental health issues in silence due to a lack of awareness of meaningful help as well as the stigma associated with the disease.


Recent revelations by Zimdancehall chanter Enzo Ishall in an interview on Star Fm that he was quitting music due to “pressures” left many pointing out that the young musician was in need of urgent help as his mental health appeared to be deteriorating.


If that is indeed the case, the young musician is not alone in the presumed fight against mental illness. Ruth Verhey is a Psychologist and the Co-Founder of the Friendship Bench, a non-profit that provides mental health intervention. A 2016 policy brief by Verhey indicated that 30% of people using primary health care facilities in Zimbabwe suffer from common mental disorders (CMD) such as depression and anxiety while other studies suggest that the prevalence of depression and anxiety is above 20% in the adult population. That means that 1 in 5 Zimbabweans suffer from depression and or anxiety.


Co-Founder of holistic health organization WIRED 2 love & thrive, Dr. Nyarai Paweni, pointed out that though there are many organisations that offer assistance with mental health, the stigma surrounding mental illness in Zimbabwe often makes it a challenge to get a true assessment of current needs as many people are slow or fail to seek professional help and additional treatment.


“Currently, the socio-economic environment and the pandemic has heightened the impact on Zimbabweans’ mental health state. As a result [people are experiencing] panic attacks, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and substance dependence with alcohol and drugs. Family conflict and gender-based violence have also shown a sharp surge in the last year and a half,” pointed out Dr Paweni.


Dr. Paweni explained that depression (major depressive disorder) causes feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in activities an individual once enjoyed.


“Depression can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease one’s ability to function at work or school and at home. In its mildest presentation, one can feel depressed by feeling low,” explained the mental health doctor.


However, it is sad to note that though common in all segments of society, many people are not aware of the steps to take when one is affected by the disease.


“It is important to note that not everybody experiencing depression will feel comfortable asking for help. But there are some signs you can look out for…Having compassion is key in helping someone who is depressed so that they can initially talk about their feelings, knowing you will hold their confidence and support them as best as you can,” said Dr Paweni.


If you are someone you know is suffering from anxiety or depression, contact WIRED 2 love & thrive on: 073 225 3769 or the Friendship Bench on: 0784845294

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