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Organisation set to kickstart mental health awareness

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BY LORRAINE MUROMO

SOCIETY for Pre- and Post-Natal Services (SPANS), a private voluntary organisation, has rolled out a programme to create community awareness on family mental health to assist families of COVID-19 traumatised victims during the national lockdown.

Psychologists have predicted a spike in mental health cases as a result of the devastating effects of COVID-19. Like Cyclone Idai, the COVID-19 virus has wreaked havoc, leaving over 1 000 Zimbabweans dead and the majority suffering from mental health.

According to a research by the Jama Network Open, a medical journal, three times as many individuals met the criteria for clinical depression during the pandemic than before.

In a statement, SPANS secretary and chief talent team leader Linos Muvhu said the pandemic had brought about major changes in the lives of the ordinary people, affecting their social lives and relationships in the process.

“We are seeing increased fear, worry, stress, mild and moderate anxiety and depression among our service users, as reflected through the use of some expressions of which have become the slogan in almost every family and every conversation,” Muvhu said.

“Demands for family therapy have grown in response to increased reports of social ills and gender-based violence. We believe the pandemic serves as a wake-up call to invest more in maternal, paternal and child mental health in Zimbabwe.”

So far, SPANS has since last month only reached out to Goromonzi and hopes to expand the campaign to other areas across the country should resources permit.
Muvhu said clinics around the country had remained open and there was need for constant routine antenatal care and post-natal care visits to educate and raise awareness about the importance of promoting and maintaining sound mental health during these trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As SPANS, we have developed a plan to respond to the mental health challenges presented by COVID-19 and this programme has the backing of the Ministry of Health and Child Care,” he said.

“There is stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health which is the major reason why community members don’t seek help for their mental health.

“Therefore, we are trying to make strides through mobile COVID-19 community family mental health outreach campaigns and a hotline in order to attend to all clients who contact the response team.”

The organisation works in collaboration with the Health ministry, becoming the first local mental health organisation to roll out a preparedness plan and implement it to promote and maintain good mental health in communities as the pandemic surges.

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