ABOUT 65% of Zimbabwean youths are said to suffer from mental problems due to drug and substance abuse, and unemployment.
SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER
This was said by Zimbabwe United Nations Association Youth president Mcleo Mapfumo during yesterday’s commemorations of International Youth Day in Harare.
This year’s theme was Youth and Mental Health – Mental Health Matters.
“High unemployment rates are affecting the mental health of many youths because they have nothing to do and they end up resorting to drug and substance abuse,” Mapfumo said.
“Youths in the ghetto also end up resorting to musical genres that promote drug abuse and it further compounds the problem of youths affected by mental health problems,” he said.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a speech read on his behalf by Tafadzwa Mwale, the officer in charge of United Nations National Centre, said 20% of the world’s young people experienced a mental health condition each year.
“The risks are especially great as they transition from childhood to adulthood. Stigma and shame often compound the problem, preventing them from seeking the support they need,” Ban said.
He said in some countries issues of mental health were ignored, leading to lack of investment in mental health services.
“Too often, owing to neglect and irrational fear, persons with mental health conditions are marginalised not only from having a role in the design and implementation of development policies and programmes, but even from basic care. This leaves them more vulnerable to poverty, violence and social exclusion, and has a negative impact on society as a whole,” he said.
Ban said vulnerable youths that were homeless, those involved in the juvenile justice system, orphaned and those experiencing conflict situations were often more susceptible to stigma and other barriers as well as mental health problems.
Zimbabwe National Association of Mental Health representative Ignatius Murambidzi said one in every four people in Zimbabwe was affected by mental health problems.
“The World Health Organisation estimates that by 2020 depression might be the second leading cause of disability worldwide.
“There is need for budgetary support for mental health programmes and to combat stigma and discrimination towards people suffering from mental health,” Murambidzi said.