Tone Set For 2021 Regional Psychosocial Support Forum

ALL is set for the sixth Edition of the Regional Psychosocial Support Forum to be held in Maputo, Mozambique from 13 to 15 October 2021.

By Michael Gwarisa

The forum will jointly be hosted by the Mozambican government and the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI) and will run under the theme ‘Innovate. Integrate. Thrive.’ The meeting will be in hybrid format, combining physical and virtual interactions and Zimbabwe among other 12 countries from East and Southern Africa will take part in the meeting which will also bring together 300 delegates drawn from various sectors and disciplines.

Speaking during the launch of the regional psychosocial support forum, REPSSI Chief Executive Officer, Mr Patrick Onyango Mangen said, “the forum comes at a time when the whole continent is engulfed in the COVID-19 pandemic a pandemic. We have seen a lot of suffering from the lockdown situation. Families have lost loved ones; children have dropped out of school and families are struggling with their daily needs.

As a result of the pandemic, the need for mental health and psychosocial care has been greater until now. I think it is much emphasized that families need much Psychosocial Support (PSS) and yet the people who deliver psychosocial support are quite few,” said Mr Mangen.

He added that REPSSI has been mobilizing communities over the past 20 years to provide PSS at community and family levels as well as working with national governments and supporting governments to plan around responsive policies and strategies that ensure that populations benefit from PSS.

“Children and youths are particularly affected by the lockdown situations and we are worried that as long as children continue to stay out of school, high risk behavior is going to emerge, unwanted pregnancies and early sexual debut. These are some of the problems we are going to begin dealing with.”

Meanwhile, the forum will have breakaway sessions, abstract based and non-abstract driven breakaway sessions and panel discussions and skills building sessions.

Mrs Sibusisiwe Marunda, the REPSSI Zimbabwe Country Director said the forum would 
also see satellite forums being held in various countries.

“This launch today marks once again the beginning of a long-standing tradition for REPSSI, government and its partners. The tradition of once in two years, a PSS forum is held and this is the sixth one. This is one is in Mozambique but we are going to have satellite forums in different countries, Zimbabwe included, on the 13th and 15th of October.

“The theme for this forum is Innovate. Integrate. Thrive which is quite apt as we have been forced into a new normal by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been forced to sharpen our brains so that we can be able to innovate and find ways of working with children and continuing to work with families and communities, continuing to protect children even in difficult circumstances,” said Mrs Marunda.

She added that the forum was happening at a time there is a surge in cases of violence against children, violence against women and increased child marriages and the abuse has been exacerbated by the fact that children were spending time indoors with abusers. She also added that the forum will interrogate harmful practices as well as find lasting solutions to curb the increasing practices.

Mr Edmore Mtetwa, the Chief Director Social Development and Disability Affairs in the Ministry of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare said the COVID-19 had triggered numerous mental health challenges in both adults and children and he was hopeful the oncoming Forum would bring innovative ways of dealing with the challenges.

“I am grateful that as REPSSI, you have seen upon yourselves to really hammer on issues of Children and young people. That to me is a development that is welcome particularly within the context of the complications of PSS nature brought forth by the advent of COVID-19 together with the measures put in pace by various governments to contain it.

“These have triggered a barrage of PSS challenges if not problems that I think each and every community is now enduring. Worse of all these PSS problems hit the most vulnerable groups particularly our children who because of the containment measures cannot attend school and spend time loafing and idling,” said Mr Mtetwa.

Meanwhile, Mrs Kwadzanai Nynhongo, Chief Director in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education said, “We are very excited because this forum actually enhances the attainment of our national indicators in terms of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) relating to education, health and wellbeing of our people including youths and adolescents.

“We are also excited because simultaneously, this feeds into our agenda 2063 at continental level and reportage that of harnessing the demographic dividend related to the youthful population of our respective neighbor countries.”







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