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Masvingo short on psychological experts

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Masvingo short on psychological experts


Ndhliyase Mlambo

MASVINGO- Friendship Bench (FB), a non-governmental organisation specialising in mental health issues has trained 15 Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) students to offer free peer to peer psycho-therapy.
The five day training workshop was held at Chevron Hotel from Tuesday to Saturday last week.

Friendship Bench Masvingo provincial implementation manager Ethel Manda told The Mirror that her organisation discovered that there is a shortage of psychological experts in Masvingo in dealing with mental health cases and decided to train lay health workers who can fill the gaps.
She also said that her organisation is targeting village health workers, university and college students and equipping them with requisite psychological skills that enable them to assist those in need of counselling and psychological help.

The students who are on work related leaning were drawn from Psychology, Sociology and Information Communication Technologies (ICT).
“After discovering that there is shortage of psychological experts in the society we established the FB which is a friendly and free space in which those suffering from mental health issues are accommodated and given psychological therapy. We train lay health workers who will offer the rare services to the community for free,” said Manda.

Manda said the Friendship Bench concept comes from the way in which experts and lay psychologists assist those suffering mental disorders by sitting around a bench were psychological therapy is offered in a secluded, private and friendly manner which restores mental health.
The students were equipped with basic counselling skills and are expected to counsel and provide free peer to peer psycho-therapy
FB has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with universities in Masvingo and its pact with GZU resulted in the formation of a Youth Friendship Bench (YouFB) which is designed to create awareness around mental health illness in adolescents and to offer appropriate support for common mental disorder among youth.

“This year we targeted GZU students on attachment studying Social Sciences and although they are not fully trained professionals, they can easily grasp psychological matters,” said Manda.
Established in 2006, the organisation operates across the country and has representatives at all Masvingo City Council clinics, 23 clinics and two hospitals in Zaka.

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