Mental health advocates and religious leaders have urged Bulawayo residents to cultivate a culture of going for counselling whenever they are faced with challenges.
This comes at a time when there is a growing number of people in Bulawayo resorting to suicide due to economic pressures.
Founder and Director of the African Institute for Ending Bullying, Violence, Depression and Suicide (AFRIBS), Zenani Masuku told CITE that many people are now prone to anxiety disorders due to the economic crisis in the country.
“Because of the economic situation unfortunately many people are now prone to anxiety disorders that sometimes leads to depression and ultimately suicide if they don’t get help earlier,” said Masuku.
She said people need to motivate each other during trying times.
“Its really unfortunate and sad the way the economy is to all Zimbabweans, but we need to keep motivated, to motivate each other, to offer a listening ear, to support each other and be sensitive to each other’s feelings.
“The economic situation affects us all and unfortunately unlike physical health where you can see a visible wound, with mental health, it is often hidden,” said Masuku.
She said there is a need to teach people how to identify symptoms of depression.
“There is a need to identify potential cases before they happen, one suicide is too much, people need to be taught on self-awareness symptoms of depression and causes.
“If people know the risk factors and signs it helps in identifying individuals who might be suicidal,” said Masuku.
She added that there is need to come up with community based mental health system.
“… because of the overwhelming rise of attempts and cases of depression, there is a serious need for a community based mental health system.
“As AFRIBS we are trying to establish peer support groups to aid those who are depressed or have family members who suffer from depression,” she said.
Masuku added: “ Peer support groups don’t guarantee full recovery but they do help people come together for peer support, get encouragement, they are given room to talk and have support from peers who understand how they feel.
“It is no hidden fact that many of our community members don’t fully understand depression, some link it to demon possession, witchcraft, laziness and because of the lack of knowledge many victims then resort to suicide because of the lack of support or understanding from either family members or community members.”
In addition, United Congregational Church for Southern Africa leader Reverend Sikhalo Cele said Bulawayo is experiencing a rise in suicide cases due to challenges people face.
“In Bulawayo, we are witnessing a rise to suicide cases owing to a number of reasons why some people opt to take away their lives, some of the reasons may include economic challenges that people face which reduces their dignity, their well being and even identity.
“If a man cant fend for his family, his identity is affected and who he is, is affected and then tally to that loss of identity and other things, some lose hope for the future and unfortunately think taking away their lives is the solution which is not actually the solution.
“ Secondly we have a group of young people, some of them are reaching stages of marriage and females fall in love with a young man who is not working and pressure of wanting to get married and the failure for the young man to pay bride price makes both the young man and the woman to think of taking their lives.
“The absence of institutions that can absorb those frustrations, remember in the olden days there were grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles and aunts who could offer healing processes or became the healing and counselling centres,” said Rev. Cele