‘Poor mental health is still a quiet pandemic’

By Shelly Guni

Pyschologist, Blessed Chinyangare believes a number of people have become self-appointed ambassadors and activists to create awareness around the mental health issues. 

Many people have jumped on the mental health bandwagon in recent years.  Whether it’s because of past experiences or intense emotional moments. Whatever the motivations behind their actions, it has significantly raised awareness of mental health issues.

“Even though many people have gotten involved, poor mental health is still a quiet pandemic. In Zimbabwe, irregular media reports have also shown that poor mental health is having a more negative impact on men’s life.

“Women are more likely than males to seek out health services, according to a number of studies, yet this does not mean that it does not affect them.

“In order to cope and eventually find solutions to overcome the underlying reasons of their mental and emotional problems, women who have a positive attitude toward receiving health services become emotionally stronger.

History shows that in Zimbabwe, various efforts and interventions have been implemented to address men’s low access to health services in general.

The hope is that the same has been or will be done with regard to access to mental health services and that the interventions are also more preventative, proactive, and not just reactive and remedial.

“While having a bad mental health can be difficult, it can also be advantageous. It gives our culture a chance to take a step back and engage in some introspection. It offers a chance to diagnose not only the condition of our nation’s fundamental principles but also its blind spots and potential ignorance.

“It makes sense that methods occasionally draw from knowledge gained from other nations, if not entire continents. However, it is our duty as a nation to evaluate and interpret our strategies and corrective measures in light of diverse cultural, social, and economic contexts. This is clear due to the possibility of completely different settings in other countries,” he said.

Chinyangare said the natural role of men in African culture has always been to provide and protect, therefore creating a culture of emotionally mature and stoic men may be the key to restoring a community that is mentally healthy. 

“As we advance, it’s also important to consider more doable and practical strategies that are adapted to the societal demands and problems with mental health. We may require separate or diverse evidence-based therapies for men and women rather than a one-size-fits-all strategy. 

“This can even extend to men taking the initiative in movements that aim to not only raise awareness but also to implement strategic and structural educational initiatives.

“Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, we can examine our historic and cultural values by contextualizing the methods for promoting men’s mental health.

“Because it’s also conceivable that the quick adoption of primarily Western methods of living has emasculated men, contributing to the high rates of poor mental health among men.  This may then assist us in figuring out ways to adopt strategies that are complementing and revitalizing to the current but dwindling stoic principles.

 “These are men who recognize the challenges of life and who must carry out their obligations in the face of difficulty. This is due to the fact that high-value males are more prevalent in societies where men are emotionally and mentally powerful.

“Everybody can securely follow their goals and desires in this safe society.  The alternative will only result in a self-destructive, morally depraved civilization that is open to infestation by all evils and a cowardly pandemic.”

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