UNICEF applauded Zimbabwe’s government for enacting mental health legislation and regulations, such as the Mental Health Act, Mental Health Strategy, and Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Guidelines.

Statistics show that two-thirds of Zimbabwean children have been subjected to corporal punishment and are at risk of developing mental health problems.

One of the top five causes of the country’s high disease burden is mental health disorders.

Dr Tajudeen Oyewale, a UNICEF representative, stated on World Mental Health Day last Thursday that many children and adolescents in Zimbabwe are affected by mental health issues as well as various forms of violence against children.

He claims that more than two-thirds of children in the country face some form of violent discipline, and that more than a third of girls face sexual violence before the age of 18.

“We congratulate the government on its mental health initiatives and efforts.” We are excited to continue working with the Ministry of Health and Child Care and its partners to raise awareness and support for children’s and adolescents’ mental health care.

“In many societies, including Zimbabwe, mental health issues, particularly those affecting children and adolescents, remain taboo.” “It is critical to break the silence about mental health,” he said.

He also stated that abuse, neglect, and other negative childhood experiences are the primary preventable causes of poor mental health.

The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown measures have heightened the risks of child and adolescent protection, contributing to increased mental health challenges.

He also stated that school closures and lost learning opportunities have had a negative impact on the mental health of over 4,5 million Zimbabwean children.

With the assistance of UNICEF and other partners, the Zimbabwean government mobilised and trained health practitioners to provide psychosocial first aid in response to Covid-19-induced psychosocial distress.

Psychosocial support is now available through the country’s Covid-19 centres. Zimbabwe also created mental health awareness materials for broadcast on radio and television.

UNICEF also urges all stakeholders to pay closer attention to children’s and adolescents’ mental health, as well as to invest more in parenting programmes, because parents and caregivers can provide much-needed safety and security for children and adolescents to thrive and flourish.

UNICEF Zimbabwe is launching a campaign to promote public discussion about children’s and adolescents’ mental health. The campaign will include a series of radio talk shows, new mental health content on its free website internet of good things, and a survey on its social messaging platform U-Report.

Substance abuse is estimated to account for 60% of all mental health cases in the country.

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