ZHTS-trained Friendship Bench workers

Zimbabwe National Association for Mental Health (ZIMNAMH) estimates that about 300,000 Zimbabweans suffer from various types of mental illness (IRIN Global, 2004).

Despite the large burden of mental illness in the community, there is no government provision of psychological treatment in primary care across Zimbabwe and the country as a whole has only a handful of trained psychiatrists in government practice.

Alone, mental illness is among the top five leading causes of disability worldwide, but the problem can rarely be tackled in isolation. For example,  depression is more common in people living with HIV, and is associated with accelerated disease progression and poor outcomes.

Nationally there are nine civilian Mental Health Institutions in Zimbabwe. However, the institutions have been hit by shortages ranging from food and fuel to drugs and the lack of specialised personnel due to a brain drain that has attracted many of Zimbabwe’s health professionals abroad – many of whom have come to the UK

Providing mental health training as part of continuous professional development (CPD) to the remaining nurses helps to support an expert workforce, helping nurses keep up-to-date with knowledge, skills and attitudes clinically, managerially and professionally.

Since 2011 ZHTS has been supporting the Friendship Bench project based in Mbare, Harare and has a partnership supporting the training of mental health nurses in Ingutsheni hospital, the largest psychiatric hospital in Zimbabwe