THE University of Zimbabwe has launched the Support Comprehensive Care and EmpowErment (SUCCEED), a mental health project for the people with psychological disabilities in Africa.
By Patricia Mashiri
The program is being implemented in four Sub-Saharan countries namely Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Malawi in partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicines (LSHTM).
Speaking during the launch of SUCCEED, Epiphania Munetsi, SUCCEED Programs Manager said the program came as a way to help and include psycho-social disabled people in the society.
Develop an evidence-based package of multi-sectoral care and support for people with psycho-social disabilities that is feasible, acceptable and appropriate for low-resource, community-based settings
“Generate new knowledge on co-production for mental health research in LMICs by modeling best practice in disability inclusion, addressing attitudinal barriers among key stakeholders, and building the capacity of “experts by experience” to engage meaningfully in mental health research and policy,” Munetsi said.
She added that Global mental health, focused on increasing access to mental health services is disconnected from disability rights, which aims to remove barriers to participation in society.
“SUCCEED will learn lessons from both traditions, to address health needs as part of building more inclusive societies. A multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder approach will reduce social exclusion and barriers to good health and social services, in partnership with people affected, their families and communities,” Munetsi said.
Meanwhile Winnie Ndoro, a specialist Sonographer said she was happy to be part of the SUCCEED program as a person with mental health issues lived experience. She has lived with Bipolar for 24 years.
“I am a middle aged woman who has lived with Bipolar Disorder for the past 24 years. It is indeed a great opportunity for me to be a part of SUCCEED as a person with lived experience. With 24 years of experience in mental health in Zimbabwe I can safely say I have been through years of stigmatisation, discrimination and ostracism. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in the late nineties after having been stressed by being offered the wrong degree programme at the University of Zimbabwe.
“I had intended to study Physiotherapy but was offered Agriculture instead. This did not go down well with me and hence the psychosis. It took the psychiatrists over a year to come up with a diagnosis. I was on trial medication that had very bad side effects.I failed to cope with medical school as I was later offered a place in Occupational therapy. The drowsing effects of the 1st line antipsychotics made me fail dismally and I had to drop out of university. I was very dejected and hopeless. No one understood what I was going through. I am grateful I have a supportive family. They have believed in me from day one till now. With much coercion I managed to go back to school and in 2003 I graduated from the school of Radiography,” said Ndoro.
She added that Mental health issues were now being given priority in the health sector.
“There is now awareness and advocacy being broadcast throughout the media. In 2017 World Health Day Theme was Depression “let’s Talk”. This showed that indeed mental health issues were now coming out in the limelight. There is growing interest in mental health issues by scholars and researchers around the globe,” Ndoro said.
The programme began in May 2020 has three distinct work streams; Research, Capacity-building and Uptake. Mental health issues have been a topical issues lately with many organizations trying to chip in and make awareness in people about mental health. People suffering from mental health issues have always been facing stigma and discrimination because of lack of knowledge on mental health.