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Health Specialists Call for Increased Openness on Mental Health

  • Tatenda Gumbo

One of Zimbabwe’s senior opposition figures, Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga, revealed recently that she was diagnosed with clinical depression and is on treatment for it.

Misihairambwi-Mushonga, who was in the Movement for Democratic Change led by Welshman Ncube, revealed this in an interview with a weekly Zimbabwean paper, the Financial Gazette, attributed her depression to the death of her husband, and the fall-out that resulted with his family.

She was quoted as saying, "It is not a dark secret. It is true that I was diagnosed with clinical depression and a panic disorder for which I am under medication. This is common in people who have gone through trauma.”

Mental health experts have applauded the revelation and are calling for increased awareness on this issue, which they say is faced by many people, who fail to seek treatment, for fear of stigmatization or embarrassment.

For perspective reporter Tatenda Gumbo of VOA’s Zimbabwe Service speaks with Dr. Rutendo Bonde chairperson of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights and psychiatrist Dr. Sekai Nhiwatiwa, who urges people to confront mental health and seek treatment from medical professionals.

“As you know our people don’t come to the doctors first, they go to traditional healers, faith healers and every other healer before they come to the hospital,” says Nhiwatiwa.

Dr. Bonde says many people live with subclinical diseases and don’t come forward for treatment for fear of stigmatization.

She adds underfunding in the health sector is also hindering Zimbabweans from seeking treatment.

“There’s very little awareness around conditions such as stress, such as depression, bi polar disorders and people just don’t come up and say look I’ve got stress I need to be attended to by a doctor,” says Dr. Bonde.

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