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Mental Health – A Global Priority

By Steve Ephraem

LIFE challenges which include marital violence, loss of livelihoods, loss of business, displacement, military instability and rape usually lead to one point; lack of mental wellness.

World over, we have received reports of people who end their lives when they become depressed due to life challenges.

Those who become strong and prepare themselves to face the life challenges would continue with precious life but cannot erase totally memories of their challenges. Therefore, they require mental health support.

A medical humanitarian organisation, Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) which has been operating in Zimbabwe since 2000 has covered thousands of miles as far as supporting people who need mental wellness in Zimbabwe is concerned.

Of key note is the psychosocial support given to refugees and asylums seekers at Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge.

The organisation started by constructing a wellness hub named The Baobab at the camp. The facility has two chat rooms, an office and an open space area with ablution facilities where games such as chess, scrabbles, puzzle and psychosocial sessions for individuals or groups are held. The outside has a pitch for sporting activities such as basketball and volleyball is played.

On 10 October this year, which is World Mental Health Day celebrated worldwide, Medecins Sans Frontieres celebrated the day with refugees and asylum seekers in Tongogara Refugee Camp. The day was commemorated under the theme: “Making mental health and well-being for all – a global priority.”

The day began with a fun run which started at the refugee camp’s main administrative offices and ended at The Baobab Hub. The 5 kilometre long fun run saw both males and females endure the Lowveld heat wave.

Highlights of the fun run include a 60 year old man, Gikela Mulondani Sebastien, who completed the five kilometre sport without complications. The top three in the women and men’s categories walked away with prizes and medals.

Reggae singer, Dudu Freddy showed his mental wellness by providing entertainment to the camp dwellers and visitors during the function.

During her address, Medecins Sans Frontieres’ Mental Health Activity Manager, Janet Mukurumbira, said mental health should be given a global priority.

“There is no health without mental health. We all have a role to play in making mental health and well-being a global priority. We want to call out on each and every one of us to pay attention to the work being done by our roots (minds) and extend a little grace to it,” she said.

The organisation further indicated that the mental wellness initiative helps to strengthen people’s resilience, so it needs global attention.