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New Initiative To Enhance Men’s Mental Healthcare

by Daniel Sabiiti
4:07 pm

A medic attends to a young man in a rural health facility.

Men in Rwanda will now have a safe space to seek help, talk about and share their mental health problems without fearing being socially labeled as crazy persons.

This opportunity comes following massive investment in men’s mental healthcare by a Rwanda-American organization Invictus Security Interest announcing the launch of the Invictus Foundation focused on Men’s Mental Health.

Officials of Invictus Security Interest say the foundation is a posture of gratitude and the interest of continuing to serve the Rwanda community after collecting over $23 million in gross revenue and converting it into over $100 million in economic activity within the country.

Why men’s mental health?

Medical experts say that men just like women suffer from mental health problems, however, women are more likely to seek and receive help for common mental health problems like anxiety and depression.

Statistics show that in Rwanda, more specifically middle-aged men (broadly defined as aged 30-59) are more likely not to talk about their mental health issues or seek help.

The 2018 Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) survey on the state of mental health in Rwanda showed that less than 2 percent of the population has access to mental health services leaving a large gap in reaching out to persons who need the services.

This gap in access to mental health services, according to the researchers, is partly caused by lack of knowledge on available services, fear of being victimized in society after one has visited a mental health facility and the long distance traveled to reach the available centers.

Mental Health and Psychosocial support scaled.

Christopher Darkins, the Chairman of Invictus Foundation & Director of Invictus Security Interests, said the initiative is to ensure men are comfortable talking about mental health issues, prioritizing their well-being and having access to the mental health care and support they deserve.

As a former American footballer in the National Football League (NFL), Darkins says that mental healthcare among men is one of the neglected health issues that need to be made known and dealt with, especially for men.

“We would like to create brave spaces designed to engage, educate, empower, and facilitate easy access to mental health support and care for African boys and men,” Darkins said.

Darkins says that the intent is to not only provide mental health support for Rwandans but also to invite African Americans to come back to their continent of origin (Africa) to unite with the culture and begin healing from a place closer to their true home.

Isabelle Masozera, the Foundation’s Coordinator says that the foundation will work with the government and health partners to create awareness, advocacy and care.

To create awareness, Masozera said that they have started the conversation on social media but plan to conduct public campaigns (such as ‘Engage a Man’), reach out in schools to create awareness at an early age, but also engage policymakers to include the education in the school syllabus.

“We are going to be doing this from a learning point of view, engaging men. Soon we will conduct research where we will find out what and how men want this to be done,” Masozera said.

At the care level, Masozera said that they will be creating wellness centers that are specifically for men to hold group therapies to discuss and walk through issues around mental health as men.

These centers will act as a ‘One stop center’ with easy access to stories, programs, conversations and resources for mental health support and care.

Dr. Yvonne Kayiteshonga, the Head of RBC mental health department says there is need for more partners to come on board to support existing initiatives especially with a focus on early intervention programs among children, in schools and families.

WHO Representative in Rwanda, Dr. Brian Chirombo says that the mental health situation is challenging, especially for the youth and they are supporting the government in collaboration with other partners, to update the Mental Health Strategic Plan that sets new targets for expanding mental health care services to be achieved by 2024.


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