Fighting depression in Zimbabwe
Pic: Quartz Africa

Depression was once thought to be a Westernized mental illness that was associated with the results of civilization. But this was proved to be false, depression is a universal human experience.

As of now, around 322 million people around the world suffer from depression, and most are in non-Western countries.

The effects of depression can be adverse. It is something that needs to be tackled.

In Zimbabwe, four hundred grandmothers teamed up to provide free therapy talks to combat depression in local communities. And it’s being a success.

Compelled by an acute shortage of mental health professionals and a pressing need to fight depression, the program was started in 2006.

A psychiatrist trained  400 grandmothers to go around communities and provide free evidence-based talk therapy. Grandmothers spoke the locals’ language, which turned out to be the key to the program’s success.

“The training package itself is rooted in evidence-based therapy, but it’s also equally rooted in indigenous concepts,” Dixon Chibanda, the program’s initiator, told the BBC. “I think that’s largely one of the reasons it’s been successful, because it’s really managed to bring together these different pieces using local knowledge and wisdom.”

Zimbabwe is in a shortage of mental health practitioners, and depression is increasingly gaining its stranglehold on people more than ever.

This program is doing a lot in terms of fighting depression.

And depression needs to be fought.

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