AT least 65 percent of patients that are attended to in Bulawayo suffer from some form of mental disorder with drugs, among other issues, cited as a major cause of the problem.
Health experts told Sunday News that extreme cases have been referred to Ingutsheni Central Hospital where more than 600 patients are admitted due to extreme mental disorder. An accredited drug prevention and rehabilitation specialist, Mr Mthabisi Ndlovu said the problem was being worsened by drug lords who have taken over the city targeting the youths.
He said while 65 percent is the recorded figure, the percentage could be higher as there are other challenges such as economic hardships that are causing mental trauma to people.
“They could be almost 80 percent but 65 percent is the documented figure,” he said.
Mr Ndlovu said drug peddlers were now vulnerable schoolchildren to push their business. The scary statistics comes as Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world to commemorate World Mental Health Day on Thursday last week.
“Mental issues emanate from substance abuse of drugs like marijuana, codeine and mood stabilisers usually put in muffins sold at school which when eaten confuse the individual and thus we end up labelling users as mentally unstable,” said Mr Ndlovu.
He said most drugs make the mind blank as the drugs are “fat loving” and with the brain containing a lot of these fats, the drugs get stuck in the brain, making the person go blank. Mr Ndlovu said community leaders should educate people, especially the youth, on the dangers of substance abuse.
Ingutsheni Central Hospital clinical director Dr Wellington Ranga said the mental institution was also recording an increase in the number of patients admitted. He, however, said some of the cases were not entirely linked to drugs but other societal problems.
“We have a rough estimate of about 606 patients diagonised with mental issues in our hospital. I can say the reason behind is that we tend to overlook some of the small issues affecting those around us and concentrate on issues like drug abuse yet there is more to that,” he said.
Dr Ranga said although substance abuse may be the most cited causes, issues like depression, stress, and anxiety were contributing to mental health problems.
“Half the time when consulting patients we do communicate with them and with time we then realise that the primary cause lies within issues to do with family, that is abuse and other things related to that,” Dr Ranga added.
In June, the Government revealed that more than one million people in the country were suffering from mental health or neurological disorders. However, most of them are not seeking treatment making efforts to deal with the problem difficult.
“Despite the availability of treatment, nearly two thirds of persons with a known mental disorder never seek professional help. In most cases stigma, discrimination, neglect and limited knowledge prevent care and treatment from reaching people with mental and neurological disorders, hence the need for awareness campaigns so that communities are empowered and they take an active role in reducing morbidity due to mental ill health,” Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said then.