Supporting mental health in Zimbabwe

One of our Rotherham Community Mental Health Practitioners who headed nearly 8,000 miles to spread his knowledge with mental health colleagues in Zimbabwe is back home and raring to go again!

Oliver Hwindingwi (39), who works at Swallownest Court, jetted off to Harare last month.

He travelled with 26 other mental health professionals who are involved with the Zimbabwe Life Project – which aims to improve quality of care for mental health patients in the African country.

Oliver, who travelled to the Southern Hemisphere as a volunteer, loved his trip.  The group was in Zimbabwe for eight days delivering workshops over three full days at Parirenyatwa School of Nursing. Here they delivered training sessions to 70 delegates.

The training programme was developed through a partnership with the Zimbabwean health service management team and the group also distributed donated medical equipment to four mental health hospitals. During the visit they met  representatives from a range of organisations including The Ministry of Health in Zimbabwe and The Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Oliver, of Knottingley, said: “It was an amazing experience. It was very eye opening to see their services and how patients are managed.  We gave training to staff explaining how we do risk assessments, our clinical management and how we supervise.”

Besides working in Harare, the volunteers also travelled to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second biggest city, where they met with mental health professionals and donated some urgently needed equipment.

Oliver added: “We also learned a lot from our Zimbabwe counterparts on how they manage their mental health patients and how ethics and religion played a big part in the delivering of this service.

“The group I travelled with are now meeting up in the UK and we’re planning to go to Zimbabwe again next year. We’re hoping to make the trip and our volunteering an annual event.  I feel like I have achieved so much over there.  Staff in Zimbabwe gained so much from our experiences. It’s great we’re now in touch with each other and still sharing our advice.”

The group are now looking for donations for their next trip. For more details email hello@zlp.org.uk

Oliver is pictured on the front row, far right with the team.