Well-being and resilience in Zimbabwe

The Anglican Council of Zimbabwe was formed to look after the work of the five Diocese in Zimbabwe. Four of these Dioceses are linked with the Diocese of Southwark, these include Central Zimbabwe, Matabeleland, Manicaland and Masvingo. The fifth Diocese, Harare, is linked with the Diocese of Rochester.

For too long now Zimbabwe has been faced with escalating inflation and it has been hard for people to find comfortable and easy ways to live. Unemployment is high and food can be scarce and is expensive. People are finding it necessary to find alternate ways to feed themselves and their families which often means subsistence farming or informal trading to make a little money for food. Finding school fees can be very hard and people worry about their children not getting an education or what will happen to them in the future. Climate Change and the possibility of drought makes life even harder. Life in Zimbabwe has been complicated and difficult for a long while now and people’s mental health is suffering and their resilience is low. Matters are made worse because there is a shortage of mental health professionals in the country and of the money to pay for them.

The project which the Zimbabwean Council of Churches wants to initiate will provide information on mental health disorders, strategies for stress management and reducing stigma associated with mental health as well as creating safe spaces for conversations about mental well-being.

The project aims to train the Clergy under the Anglican Council of Zimbabwe as well as their wives – many of whom are involved with the Mothers’ Union, on mental health care. The clergy of the Dioceses and their wives will be trained by mental health professionals who will help them to gain the skills to work in their congregations and local communities. Once the Council has raised the money for the project – which they hope that the Bishop of Southwark’s Lent Call will be able to contribute to – they will start the training within three months.

After training, the clergy will embark on the second phase of the project which is the awareness phase. The Clergy will be expected to conduct programmes and initiatives that raise awareness about issues concerning mental health and well-being in their churches and communities. They will also work to assist those suffering with mental health difficulties in their churches and communities – offering this help free of charge in order to reach as many people as possible.

The Anglican Council of Zimbabwe will also work to raise awareness on mental health at various Anglican national conferences so that as many people as possible are made aware of the difficulties and issues surrounding mental health. It is hoped that the implementation of the programme will begin within eight months of the Clergy and their wives being trained.

Across the whole of Zimbabwe, it is hope that over four hundred people will be trained. They will work together to raise awareness of mental health issues and their effects right across Zimbabwe. The project will be critical in increasing awareness of mental health issues and its effects as well as promoting early intervention and supporting individuals with mental health concerns across Zimbabwe.

Monitoring and Evaluation

To ensure the success of the project the Anglican Council of Zimbabwe will monitor the training phase of the project by attending the training sessions to ensure the presence and full participation of the Clergy. The awareness phase will be monitored through at least two monitoring visits per Diocese by the Anglican Council of Zimbabwe to ensure that the trained Clergy are indeed raising awareness and assisting mental health issues.

The evaluation process will include interviews with questionnaires for Clergy, as well as the church community on the impact of the project and how it has been helpful to them. This will be followed by an assessment by the Anglican Council of Zimbabwe of the mental health awareness programmes done by the Clergy in their communities and it is hoped to get a sense of the success and usefulness of the project.
The Anglican Council of Zimbabwe is asking for help from the Diocese of Southwark to start the project. Raising the money for this project is not easy and will be costly. There is a need for transport to the training, accommodation, food and materials for the initial stage of the programme. It is hoped that the project will be successful and attract support from partner organisations.

The project is likely to cost in the region of USD$10,000 per Diocese per year (that’s about £7,900). Though The Anglican Council of Zimbabwe will start small with whatever money is raised to provide a short course on Mental Health First Aid.

Please consider prayerfully and carefully what you can give to support the work of resilience and well-being in the Diocese of Zimbabwe and please pray for the country, its church and its people during Lent – asking God to bless and keep them in these difficult times.

Find out more and how to donate: https://southwark.anglican.org/lent-call/