Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) on Monday handed over its community mental health project activities to the University of Zimbabwe’s department of Psychiatry as part of the organisation’s efforts to address health gaps in the country’s psychiatry care system.
According to the MSF Head of Mission for Zimbabwe, Abi Kebra Belaye, lack of mental health care at the community level has led to repeated hospitalization and imprisonment of patients with mental illness.
“We noted that patients who were being discharged from the psychiatric institutions were relapsing when they went back into the community, due to lack of adequate treatment, care and support and were being readmitted into psychiatric institutions.
“We also conducted a nationwide rapid assessment and noted that there were serious health gaps in the country’s psychiatric institutions.
“We decided to set up a discharge team that comprised a psychiatrist, a mental health nurse and a social worker that followed up patients with mental illness after their discharge from Chikurubi and Harare Central psychiatric units and connected them to the relevant health facility at their community,” said Balaye.
She added that the hand over of project ensures that patients continue to receive uninterrupted treatment, urging the Ministry of Health and Childcare, donors and other NGOs to cascade the community model across the country.
“We call upon Ministry of Health and Child Care, donors and other NGOs to cascade the community model across the country so that people with mental illness benefit from services,” said Ms Belaye.
Speaking at the same event, Deputy Director Mental Health Services in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dorcas Sithole said legislation which mandates equality for people with disabilities is in place in many countries.
“70 % of people with mental disorders will conceal their mental illness for fear of discrimination and they have valid reasons for this, they are less likely to be employed and retained in employment than people without mental illness.
“Therefore legislation which mandates equality for people with disabilities is in place in many countries so we are inviting everyone on the 10th of October to come and join us celebrate the World mental Health day to be held at Lafarge cement in Mabvuku such that we will discuss more about challenges being faced by people with mental disorders especially in work places,” said Sithole
MSF also donated a Toyota Landcruiser, medicines, office space, furniture, stationery, a computer and a printer to ensure that the treatment, care and support of mental patients is moved from the hospital to community based polyclinics that will be supported by the University of Zimbabwe.
According to MSF one in four adults will experience mental health difficulties in their life. In addition, one in five people in the workplace experience a mental condition with 10 percent of people in employment taking time off work due to depression.