Stakeholders speak on the importance of mental health in institutions of higher learning

By Providence Maraneli

The Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic College has partnered a local non-government organisation to construct a professional counseling facility as part of efforts to reduce mental health-related challenges.

The issue of mental health has become topical in the wake of revelations that many are suffering in silence hence the need to come up with lasting solutions.

It is against that background that Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic College has partnered Education Coalition of Zimbabwe to provide counseling services for students.

“As students we face a lot of challenges and some end up taking their lives,” a student said.

Another commented: “I once got stressed by rent issues and other financial issues and I got into a depression.”

Said another: “Sometimes you get pregnant and the person is not forthcoming and you do not know what to do.”

Challenges which include shortage of accommodation and social background are the major causes of psychological trauma among students.

“Because we are an institution that deals with adults counseling is important, look we can only accommodate 100 students in the hostels and the rest stay out of campus where rentals are so exorbitant and because these people come from poor backgrounds they become stressed so with a facility like this we feel relieved,” JM Nkomo Polytechnic Principal Dr Ngoni Moyo said.

Having such a facilty is part of implementing the education 5.0 model, with mental health and wellness of human capital being key to national development.

Lydia Madyirapanze, board chair of the Education Coalition of Zimbabwe said: “Counseling rooms are an important instrument in inclusive training especially at tertiary education level. apart from the classroom or lecture there is also need for tertiary institutions to create a youth friendly spaces which are convenient to do deliberations on the student’s personal health and life skills.”

“As we endeavor to fulfill our policy mandate of education 5.0, we should be mindful of mental health and wellness of our human capital we are developing in our institutions of higher learning, let alone the human capital,” said Tungamirai Magunda, Principal Human Capital Development Officer in the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development.

The World Health Organisation estimates that Zimbabwe loses 14 in every 1000 people to suicide and other psychological disorders, with the country being ranked 34th on a list of 182 countries and the fifth in African nations recording mental health related deaths.