By Nyasha Mutena
Winnie Ndoro is a specialist Sonographer by profession and has lived with Bipolar Disorder for the past 24 years. She also has 24 years of experience in mental health in Zimbabwe.
She is living in a world that is still rigid on formulating suitable policies and infrastructure for PWDs on a wider scale. Narrating her ordeal, Winnie said;
“I can safely say I have been through years of stigmatisation, discrimination and ostracism. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in the late nineties after having been stressed by being offered the wrong degree programme at the University of Zimbabwe. I had intended to study Physiotherapy but was offered Agriculture instead.
“This did not go down well with me and hence the psychosis. It took the psychiatrists over a year to come up with a diagnosis. I was on trial medication that had very bad side effects. I failed to cope with medical school as I was later offered a place in Occupational therapy. The drowsing effects of the 1st line antipsychotics made me fail dismally and I had to drop out of university”.
Due to her condition, Winnie’s says she was very dejected.
“No-one understood what I was going through. I am grateful I have a supportive family. They have believed in me from day one till now. With much coercion I managed to go back to school.”
Speaking during the same event, Ministry of Public Services, Labor and Social Welfare National Disability Affairs Director, Dr Christine Peta underscored the importance of mental health research, capacity building and render support to Persons With Disabilities inorder for them to communicate clearly and effectively with stakeholders.
Her clarion call comes during a time the world is striving to shift mindsets and attitudes towards PWDs. Gross misconceptions on mental illness, negative attitudes, stigma and discrimination and human rights violations in the society are among the barriers that continue to hinder PWDs total representation and empowerment.
“We are therefore witnessing a paradigm shift on Zimbabwe in which both the National Disability Policy (2021) and the Succeed project are frameworks that are expected to intersect to achieve the meaningful and active participation of persons with psychosocial disabilities in society,” said Dr Peta.
Also speaking, Succeed Zimbabwe Peer reseacher, Musa Buyanga said;
“I have been living with a psychosocial disability for the past 17 years and SUCCEED Africa is a platform that allows me and others with lived experience to express our thoughts and feelings about mental health. In SUCCEED Africa I play a role of Peer Researcher and it is the first time I have been involved in such a project as part of my career. It is something new and I am learning and gaining experience along the way.
“SUCCEED Africa has given me a platform to air my views as someone who has lived experience and has empowered me as well as others involved in SUCCEED. My thoughts, views and decisions are considered and put into play”.
SUCCEED Africa is championing co-production. It is in full support of the “Nothing about us without us” mantra.