The African Mental Health Research Initiative (AMARI) Consortium will soon take mental healthcare initiatives to public transport operators also known as combis.
By Kuda Pembere
With millions of Zimbabweans being commuters, Amari wants to utilise this massive number to spread awareness on mental health care.
Speaking at a media networking workshop in Harare, AMARI director Professor Dixon Chibanda said combis are a great tool to propagate the message of proper mental healthcare.
“One area that noone has thought of leveraging on is the area of combis, combi transport. Now if there is one key message that I would like you to take is that we need to focus on developing interventions on how best we can leverage the public transport to convey a powerful message to improve mental health. Why? Because firstly not only are the commuter omnibuses drivers are themselves victims on some of these issues,” he said.
He added that combis have the power to drive about change in the way people view mental illnesses.
“But the people we want to reach out and make a difference who use this public transport. So imagine if we had in this room have critical mass, imagine we we could have a critical mass of combi drivers. Who speak with one voice. A voice to bring about change. A voice to bring about mental health revolution to improve the quality of life of our people in the country,” said Prof Chibanda.
Prof Chibanda also said kombi operators are up for the task of educating the public on mental health issues.
“In our interactions with combi drivers they said if you give us the songs with a specific message we will play them.
“To say 200 kombis on the Mbare route are playing these songs on a Monday and other songs on other days. If you give us stickers, pamphlets we will put them in our kombis. They are eager to work with us,” he said.