By Pride Sakupwanya
The prospects of one day heading a family coupled with economic expectations have laid heavy yoke on Zimbabwean youth and men leaving them exposed to mental health challenges as depression and anxiety takes a toll on their daily life.
At 25 years many expect to have established themselves as financially stable and planning for life in marriage but that has not been the case as depression consumes every plan and expectation.
Sadly, many have resorted to drug and substance use and others have gone to the extremes of taking their lives because they fail to confide in the next person.
In an interview with Ambrose Ngazimbi (25) said being a breadwinner puts pressure on men and when the chips are down they will not share with others for fear of being labeled ‘failures’.
“We have many people depending on us from parents, siblings and girlfriends and having that not matching up with the income it tears us apart and mostly if we are labeled as a failure,” said Ngazimbi
Dr. Kudakwashe Muchena a Psychologist said depression and anxiety were mainly caused by cultural expectations in society
“We live in a society where men do not cry and it is something that has been passed from generations to the other, young men are not supposed to say anything even if they lose a girlfriend and also if they can’t make it financially. Our society does not appreciate mental health issues and when one shows signs they are considered to be bewitched,” Dr. Muchena said
He said there is need to appreciate the mental health challenge as a problem like any other health challenge
“We need to appreciate mental health illness as a problem just like HIV then we can come up with treatment plans,” he said.
Mental health advocate and founder of Someone Always Listens To You (SALT Africa) Tafadzwa Meki said the responsibility cast upon young men had become a burden
“The responsibilities thrusted upon shoulders of a male child are huge, such as being the man of the house you are responsible for taking care of everyone. This is from as young as a little boy that is in primary school, there are traits we do not see but they are toxic, because one has been termed provider it becomes difficult to accept when there is inability to take away someone’s ego and result young men go into non-confirmative behavior. We need to realign and rethink their focus and expectations when it comes to male child,” said Meki
Covid 19 pandemic induced lockdowns increased cases of mental health challenges in young men as they resorted to substance abuse.
Zimbabwe is among countries with high suicide rates, depression and anxiety is among the major factors of influence and it is in need of urgent attention to address these mental health issues