Depression: A Growing Concern Among Adolescents In Zimbabwe

The Covid 19 pandemic has affected a number of people in different ways, one such effect is depression especially among adolescents. With most schools having been closed for more than a year most young people and forced to be indoors more most of their time. An increasing number of youths have resorted to drug abuse and early child marriages as a way to escape from depression.

Depression: A Growing Concern Among Adolescents In Zimbabwe

By Sharon Chikwanha

The World Health Organization defines depression as a mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity.

Kudzai Madziva a university student who once suffered depression said," I am a victim of depression. It's one of the worst conditions. It's like a monster inside your head that takes over. The worst thing is to know that family and friends were doing their best to help yet I still felt so lonely."

Harare psychiatric deputy head of department, Doctor Sacrifice Madenyika Chirisa said," Wherever there are people there are psychological factors." Depression affects everyone including minors, it contributes to most suicides that occur. According to the World Health Organisation, an estimated 800 000 people commit suicide every year due to depression.

"Suicide cases in most secondary schools are increasing at a faster rate as bullying is one of the main causes of depression", said Dr Mangwiro. " When my mom passed away I felt like killing myself. Several times I tried to commit suicide until someone directed me to a counseling center".  said Nyasha (Pseudo)

Societies are ignorant about mental health hence treating depression lightly. "My grandmother directed me to the different prophet when I was experiencing depression because she believed I was being haunted by evil spirits. I think these superstitions worsened my situation." Kudakwashe Maora said.

 " Mental health is misdefined by the society ", said Doctor Sacrifice Madenyika Chirisa.

"Personally I feel our society is ignorant about what depression is because you find that when one speaks out, people tend to judge them and label them attention seekers hence there's need to raise awareness so that the society can know what it all about". Kudzai Madziva explained.

The University of Zimbabwe has the initiative to reduce depression-related diseases in students through the center for applied psychology.

" We have managed to come up with Wellness Initiative for Students (WISE)", the University's senior lecturer in the department of psychology at the University of Zimbabwe  Dr. Gwatirera Javangwe  told the  publication  

WISE is out in place to help students cope with depression.

Young people are also victims of depression as research shows that children up to the age of 10 may also experience depression.

"4-6 % of young people live with depression. " Dr. Gwatirera Javangwe a senior lecturer in the department of psychology at the University of Zimbabwe added.

Existing psychiatric institutions are not baby-friendly and do not have facilities for adolescents and children.

" 20% of adolescent suffer from mental and about 6% of them needs acute mental interventions." Dr Florence  Muchirahondo a psychiatrist said.

"Zimbabwe has  a few child and adolescent health clinics with only fifteen psychiatrists in the whole country ."
Dr. Betty Isabel Nyereyegona NASSA Medical advisor said.

If a child has a major depression condition he/ she needs professional help from informed and qualified health professionals.