Bulawayo students on drive to promote mental health
By Lorraine Metha
Sibobothekile Moyo (18) and Scholarstica Salima (18) are high school students at Hamilton High School and Msitheli High school respectively. The two young girls are on an ambitious drive to raise awareness on mental health issues in Bulawayo.
Sibobothekile says she was motivated to work on mental health issues following an increase in the number of students committing suicide in Bulawayo.
“When I enrolled at Hamilton high school, I started to follow up on cases of suicide by students in Bulawayo. I noted that the cases were on the increase and that many students were not paying any attention to mental health issues,” says Sibobothekile.
Sibobothekile says her work involves engaging students by organising workshops where mental health issues are discussed. Recently, Sibobothekile says she and Scholarstica organised a one day workshop at Hamilton high school which was attended by students from two schools.
“We have realised that students have limited access to information. Through these workshops, we bring experts on mental health to talk to students. At Hamilton, we invited a registered Psychologist from Green Crescent and a Student’s Counsellor from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST).
Sibobothekile says key issues that emerged from the discussions were that girls were experiencing a lot of pressure from the family to perform well at school and pressure from male colleagues to engage in relationships. At times this pressure becomes too much for girls leading to depression.
“Our society puts more pressure on girls than boys. Girls have many responsibilities at home, yet they are expected to also do well at school. Girls are judged harshly when they behave in a certain manner. Boys get away with all forms of mischief and are not judged,” says Sibobothekile.
Scholarsica bemoaned the low attendants by students and attributed it to society’s disregard for girls’ voices.
“It is sad that even now when young girls host such important function to discuss an important issue which not only affect families but the whole country, society simply ignores because it is regarded as a girls talk show. We worked hard to engage all the relevant stakeholders. I myself struggle with depression and today was very helpful to me I just wished others had got the chance I got to learn more about mental health. What we did today may have potentially saved the life of any one of the people that attended this event,” says Scholarstica.
Recently, a non-governmental organisation working on mental health in Zimbabwe, the Friendship Bench revealed that 30% of people using primary health care facilities in Zimbabwe suffer from common mental disorders (CMD) such as depression and anxiety.
Hamilton high school deputy head, Ms Ncube expressed her gratitude to the organisers of the workshop and added that a healthy mind equals a healthy body which boosts academic performance. She urged the students to be pillars for each other in the fight against depression.