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Empowering communities through mental health advocacy in Zimbabwe

Posted on: Friday, May 5th, 2023

We are delighted to announce the launch of a new project to strengthen mental health advocacy in Zimbabwe. Following a successful pilot project in 2021 with our fantastic partner, Zimbabwe National Association for Mental Health (ZIMNAMH), we are focused on strengthening a human rights-based approach to mental health advocacy.

Currently, people with mental health conditions in Zimbabwe can face many challenges, including long detentions in psychiatric settings, inhumane treatment in care institutions, and a lack of access to health and social care provision. People with mental health conditions can also face pervasive stigma and discrimination within their communities, making it even harder to access support.

The voices of people with lived experiences have long been missing in the organisation and delivery of mental health services, and in mainstream development activities. It is fundamental to include people with mental health conditions in advancing mental health policies, so that their needs and aspirations are accurately represented, and participation in local and national development programs is guaranteed.

This new project aims to strengthen human rights-based mental health advocacy at grassroots level. It is running for six months in five districts of Zimbabwe, targeting people with psychosocial disabilities, caregivers, community workers and service providers. Building on the success of our pilot project in 2021, activities now include;

  • Establishing 10 new peer support groups and strengthening 15 existing peer groups, so that people are connected and able to speak out with a unified voice
  • Training 75 group leaders as mental health advocates, mentors and coaches, with the aim to then reach out to 500 peers
  • Training 100 journalists and others involved in community development on inclusive development, so that the media becomes a mouthpiece for effective advocacy
  • Creating a WhatsApp mental health advocacy group allowing participants to share their experiences, advice and encouragement

One project participant says :

“As women with mental health challenges, we are often denied our right to reproductive rights and some are subjected to forced marriages and abortions. I was someone who was very discouraged because of stigma and discrimination. Knowing my rights through the trainings by ZIMNAMH, I became confident of myself.”

“I want to encourage people with lived experiences to learn about mental health and human rights, in order to promote mental health recovery and social participation.”


Image: A support group participating in a training session