Society implored to assist mental health patients

By Abigirl Tembo, Health Editor

With suicide cases on the increase, society has been implored to change its negative attitude towards mental health to ensure people suffering from the condition get the necessary help.

Depression, anxiety, bipolar and mood disorders affect many people on a daily basis but not much is being done to address these mental disorders, with most people shying away due to stigma associated with such conditions.

Television personality Vicky Maponga is among people who have been struggling with clinical depression for some time.

“I personally suffered mental health challenges myself. I have gone through depression, clinical depression. I have tried to commit suicide. I have gone through losing a child; I have gone through divorce. There are so many things that I have personally gone through. I have suffered low self-esteem not knowing who I am, what I am doing and why I am doing what I am doing, so, all those things I have gone through them and when I talk about mental health, it’s something that comes from the deepest part of my heart. We are only seeing people committing suicide. We hear about these suicidal stories, we read about drug addicts – those are just results of mental health,” she says.

She tried to end her life on three occasions, but what drives a person to such extremes?

“Life was tough everywhere around me. Life was tough everywhere. I felt squeezed in between. I was just this little thing in between hard rocks, nowhere to turn to, no one to talk to, nothing to do. I just felt like I had come to the end of the road and there is nothing at the end of the day for me, so I just felt well, let me commit suicide. I tried to do this three times. It’s only the third time when I confessed to my sister that I had drank 50 tablets. I just drank them and covered myself hoping I would just sleep for good.”

According to psychotherapist Mertha Nyamande, the best solution is to seek medical help.

“With depression, they don’t know what to do. They may have asked for help or looked for help but, no one seems to be able to help them, so this is where we come up with the situations, where we come up with helplessness and hopelessness. That person feels there is no hope and that’s when people think of commuting suicide because they are now a burden, a burden to themselves and a burden to people around them. Our culture doesn’t help much because often there are only two ways to address the challenges that we have – either you are told to go to church or to a traditional healer, but some of these things are clinical and they require you to seek medical help,” said Nyamande.

Through seeking medical help and adopting survival skills, Vicky has managed to pull herself out of the dark corner.

“You will never know the tears that I would have to wipe before I smile and say ‘Good Evening Zimbabwe’ – that’s being strong and skilled. Find something that you want to do. When I was depressed life was worthless. I was bed-ridden for over a month and you begin to feel pain. Indulge in simple things, add a routine in your life that you don’t normally do. Make a call to a friend, read a novel.”

As part of her copying mechanisms, Vicky has also created a support group Another Chance where people suffering from mental health challenges can share experiences and uplift each other to quicken the recovery process.