WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY COMMEMORATION
“Move For Mental Health”. This was the theme for the World Mental Health Day Commemoration which was celebrated on the 15th of October 2020. The event was held at L’Arche Zimbabwe where Senators, Ministers and L’Arche stakeholders, together with L’Arche youth with disabilities members, were present.
Graced with the presence of honourable members such as the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Professor Paul Mavima, Senator Rejoice Timire and World Health Organisation (WHO) representatives, the event progressed very well, infused with bits of heart warming performances from the L’Arche youth with mental disabilities.
With Zimbabwe being one of six countries in the world to spearhead the special initiative in mental health, the WHO is currently conducting virtual consultations on development forms of action and has already managed to acquire 100 mental health stakeholders.
However, in as much as there are 15 African countries among the top 30 globally for mental health needs, there are nine mental health workers per every 100 000 people which indicates limited services. As for Zimbabwe, most mental health services are paid for directly by patients since government expenditure is less than 10c per capita, leading to financial hardships for affected people.
In his press statement, honourable Professor Paul Mavima spoke on disability usually being associated with witchcraft and the breaking of taboos, leading to people with disabilities, especially mental disability, to be stigmatised and isolated by community members due to misconception.
He appealed to everyone present to desist from such views that perpetuate stigmatisation and to join Zimbabwe in adopting the present day international best practice that says people with disabilities and people without disabilities should live together in communities where they share life together.
Research has indicated that the things we consider to be disabilities are in some ways directly connected to some abilities. For instance, a number of studies show that people suffering from anxiety will also be in some ways very diligent and detail oriented leading to high productivity. Or someone suffering from attention deficit will have high energy levels, thereby having out of the box thinking.
Honourable Mavima stated how “We learn from each other and support one another”, as he encouraged people with disabilities to spend time with others who are positive and supportive in their lives.
Telling them to take less notice of people who pull them down, and to realize their strength, value and things that make them happy as they continue to engage in various skill development projects while defying negative stereotypes associated with mental disability.
World Mental Health Day aims to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilize efforts in support of mental health. One in every four people (25%) is affected by at least one mental health disorder. Mental health manifests in different ways and some persons with intellectual disabilities have dual conditions which may include cerebral palsy, epilepsy, depression, anxiety and autism.