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Mental health just as important as physical health

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EDITOR — May is Mental Health Awareness Month in America while World Mental Health Day is commemorated every year on October 10. However, mental health awareness has become a topic for every day. 

The rise in mental health cases which the country is struggling to contain has been ascribed to increasing abuse of drugs and alcohol. Mental health disorders include a broad range of problems, with different symptoms generally characterised by a combination of abnormal thoughts, emotions, behaviour and relationships with others.

Symptoms may include changes in mood, personality, personal habits and/or social withdrawal.

Some of the most common disorders are depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and intellectual disabilities.

Mental health problems were attributed to weakness of one’s character; one would have to hide the pain behind a smile and laughter for fear of being ridiculed and rejected. But it is nothing to be ashamed of. 

Children also suffer from mental health issues. 

Children between the ages of nine and 17 have been taking their own lives. It was previously unheard of and considered to be taboo. According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), suicide is among the top five causes of deaths for 10-to-19-year-olds: “Almost   46 000 10-to-19-year-olds die from suicide each year.” 

Zimbabwe launched the Mental Health Strategic Plan in 2019. In 2020, the Zimbabwe Special Initiative for Mental Health Strategic Framework was developed and launched on July 21 2021. The Mental Health Investment Case, also launched on July 21 2021, is a key component of the Zimbabwe Special Initiative for Mental Health Strategic Framework.

 It’s important to spread the word on the importance of mental health and its impact on the well-being of Zimbabweans. Seeking help for your mental health is a sign of strength not weakness.

Pyschiatrist, Harare

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