MASVINGO — Mental patients suffer neglect, stigma and discrimination at the hands of family members and society, a senior government official has said.
BY HAZVINEI MWANAKA
Ngomahuru Psychiatric Hospital superintendent Dr Parirenyatwa Maramba said there was need to educate members of the community on the condition.
Maramba said a good example was of a young man who became sick and violent and assaulted his grandmother, who later succumbed to injuries sustained during the attack.
“After we admitted him at the hospital, he became better and we decided to send him back home, but we realised that his parents had separated.
“No one was willing to take him in; everyone was blaming him for his grandmother’s death. The mother was saying I have to consult the father before I take him and on the other side the father was saying he has to stay with the mother, so at the end of the day he had nowhere to go so we were left without any option, but to keep him here,” he said.
Maramba said the young man later hung himself.
He said mental patients who get treatment recover and could later live a normal life.
“We understand that when they are violent they can commit any crime, but when they are treated they become stable and they are able to function well. Some of them, when they are stable, will not even remember what happened when they were sick,” he said.
Maramba called for awareness campaigns on mental health issues.
“Our major challenge is that people are not aware and educated about the issue. There is a big gap in terms of awareness. So there is need of us to go there and raise awareness among people in the society,” he said.
Maramba urged relatives and well-wishers to support government-funded psychiatric institutions.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 1,3 million people in Zimbabwe are mental patients, up from 600 000 in 1999.
Zimbabwe only has, according to WHO, 14 psychiatrists to cater for the 1,3 million patients.