Zimbabwe rolls out mental health program targeting workplaces

By Jerry Omondi

Zimbabwe’s Health Ministry has partnered with the World Health organization to develop a training program focusing on mental health in the workplace.

Dubbed ‘MH in the workplace’, the program aims to improve and increase access to Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services (MHPSS) in the workplace.

According to The WHO, the program is a tailored brief intervention that has been shown to significantly reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

The agency pointed out that working Zimbabweans spend one third of their life at work, noting that is a lot of time employees are exposed to work-related stresses.

Besides The WHO, the Zimbabwe government is also working on this together with Friendship Bench, an organization that provides community based psychological interventions.

Zimbabwe’s health authorities hope the program will reduce the treatment gap for mental health issues within the Southern African country.

“This program thrives on the Friendship Bench’s community-based problem-solving therapy which will decentralize the MHPSS  to narrow the  treatment gap in the country,” noted MoHCC Mental Health Department Occupational Therapist Brighton Mufakwadziya.

“Mental Health in the workplace is a game changer as it will enable us to reach out to more people who need MHPSS services in Zimbabwe,” said Professor Dixon Chibanda, Friendship Bench Director.

“Through capacity building of lay counsellors who will create space in the workplace for those in need, our three key pillars of Friendship Bench will be utilized: 1) Kuvhura pfungwa (opening of the mind), 2) Kusimudzira (uplifting), and 3) Kusimbisa (strengthening),” he added.

Zimbabwe’s Health Ministry aims to train more mental health champions to ensure the project expands in various organizations across the country. It also aims to continue providing real-time support, supervision, and mentorship to the trained MH Champions to reach at least 3000 clients by June 2022.

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