HomeOpinion & AnalysisOut & About: Nurse gets real about mental health

Out & About: Nurse gets real about mental health

with Grant Moyo

Mental health conversations are significant in relationships, they unlock the idiopathic, physiological, social, biochemical abnormalities and genetic causes of depression, helping in distinctly bringing out the elation degrees of intensity which ranges from mild to severe depending on clinical manifestations, says Bongani Ndlovu, a general nurse.

The communicative health practitioner believes it is about time the African continent joins the global community in amplifying mental health literacy. Ndlovu the society to normalise conversations centered on the dysfunction of the psychological state. He encourages parents to seek professional help through counselling and therapy, lifesaving options which will end the misery of knuckling under catastrophe.

Having faced psychic trauma as a young boy after the demise of his parents, the Bulawayo-born nurse who not so long lost his sibling due to depression, calls for relevant authorities and policymakers to delve deep into the burning issue. He reckons that deploying a task force which will identify the root causes of mental disorder and find realistic strategies to thwart the spike in the patterns, will immensely aid to curb the sombre aftermath exhaustively perturbing the upbeat of the social fabric.

Ndlovu went to Mpumelelo Primary School and Regina Mundi Secondary School where he passed with flying colours.

His Ordinary Level grades that included 8As and 2Bs, ranked him among the top students in Matabeleland.

In 2016 he got absorbed in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programme which paid school fees for students doing sciences at Advanced Level.

Spearheaded by STEM, he was among the students who were selected from each Zimbabwean province that represented the country in the United States. After completing Advanced Level with good points, lack of funds to further his studies in mathematics at University made Ndlovu to consider pursuing nursing as a profession. He holds a Diploma in General Nursing from St Luke’s Mission Hospital in Lupane, Matabeleland North.

“The pain of losing people who dearly love you is horrific. When my mother died in 2003, I was only six years old and from there onwards my father became my pillar of strength, but not for long, in 2008 he succumbed to an illness and life changed drastically,” Ndlovu said.

“I was emotionally wrecked, downhearted and dejected mentally. Drifting back, growing up my sisters and I were given the best possible lifestyle any children would expect from their parents.

“My parents looked after us with every fibre of their being. My father, who frequently reminded me that education is life, made me read novels at a very tender age.

“After his death, we relocated to our rural home in Kezi, Matabeleland South. Zimbabwe’s economic crisis in 2008 didn’t make my predicament any better, I remember walking barefooted to school and the pain of sleeping on an empty stomach was unbearable.”

He added: “By God’s grace I persevered, I did well throughout my primary and secondary education. The hope to pursue my life ambition as a math teacher at tertiary level was crushed due to insufficient funds.”

“I then found myself pursuing nursing as a profession that will help me pay back to the community that brought me up. In my final year I suffered a serious emotional and psychological meltdown.

“My uncle who was my guardian succumbed to diabetes and shortly after, my eldest sister who had a diagnosis of depression committed suicide.

“With the state final examinations on the cards, I had to gather strength in a short space of time. Upon publication of results by the Nurses Council Of Zimbabwe, I was so much humbled to learn that I was the national gold medalist. Being the Best Nurse Group C 2018 in the whole of Zimbabwe.”

Ndlovu described depression as a psychiatric condition which is a cerebral response defined by emended mood state and physical mood complex accompanied by negative self-esteem as well as self-concept, and associated with regressive as well as self-punitive wishes.

Social factors that cause depression include loneliness, unemployment and significant suffering in life like losing a job or a loved one. The clinical features include psychological or psychiatric symptoms such as suicidal idealisation, which may lead to one taking their life in the worst case scenario, physical symptoms and social symptoms.

Ndlovu noted that even though depression can affect people when they least expect it, a lot can be done to prevent it, especially when confronted with psycho social issues.

The general nurse acknowledges psycho social mental health first aid as an effective solution. Its components include human supportive response, a way of assisting people get out of their problems, assessing needs and concerns of other people as well as use of a listening technique in any situation.

He said exercising, good nutrition, venting out, withdrawal, diversionary therapy and crying (it is a natural way of relief) are good ways of coping with stress. The health practitioner also emphasised on the importance of individuals knowing themselves, their triggers and weaknesses, delegating, being assertive, having a balanced social life, as well as avoiding people who stress them and issues which are not within their control, as face-saving means.

Upon realising the need to avail people going through the stressful phases that he has experienced throughout his life, Ndlovu established a WhatsApp group where he hypes mental health awareness and health education in general.

“A nurse has three major roles namely independent, dependent and interdependent,” he said.

“Independent role is where I practice as a professional and I am answerable, be it advocacy, caregiving, leading or management.

“Dependent role is where I take orders from the doctor, carry them out as said and give feedback. Interdependent role is where I liaise with other departments like physiotherapy, X-ray and pharmacy, for the well being of patients. I created a WhatsApp group to provide a platform where people from all walks of life converge at any given time and pour their hearts out on any pressing health issues with their identity withheld.

“I figured out that people cannot wait only to get sick and get health education at clinics and hospitals, yet I can reach out to them. Public issues are discussed in the group and private matters are discussed in my inbox with confidentiality guaranteed.”

Ndlovu said his aim was to make the world a better place.

“The lessons I learned so far from the group is that there is a huge gap in the African community as far as mental health literacy and health education as a whole are concerned,” he said.

“With such, I have a message to all those going through mental crack-up. Giving up is not an option, you have an inborn ability to overcome depression no matter what life throws at you.

“It doesn’t matter where you come from, what matters is where you are going, everyone is born with a formidable potential to do and dare. Don’t be limited by obstacles, focus on the glory, pain won’t last forever, even chronic pain ends when one dies.”

Shedding more light on the inhospitable consequences poised by depression, Ndlovu stressed that time and time again, the use of drunkenness or getting high as an escape from mental breakdown affects both the victim and the society they live in. Such is evident in the rise in criminal offenses, sexual harassment, prostitution, gender based violence, femicide and suicide. In most instances these social ills pierce the livelihoods of the vulnerable children and females, with men being the prime perpetrators who often get away with such atrocious behaviour without facing the wrath of the law.

Ndlovu also pointed out that when youths are going through a rough patch they tend to rush into decision making and if they fail to get out of predicament they resort to unethical fun like indulging in unprotected sexual intercourse and drug abuse as a means of distressing.

  • Grant Moyo is a writer, innovative media personality, entrepreneur and a creative artist, who is passionate about using his creative mind for the betterment of society.  Follow him on Twitter: @TotemGrant

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