Statistics are hard to find in Zambia, and they are even harder to find in a pandemic. One thing we do know is that we have been getting twice as many need requests for help than we usually do.
My work in Zambia centers around providing mental health support. Even at normal times, the need is dire and the numbers are shocking. There are less than 15 psychologists for the whole country of 17 million people and those few are centered in the capital, which is 6 hours away from where I live and serve. I live in the second largest city in Zambia. My Zambian friend Luyando and I have built a program to provide mental health support through trained volunteers for people that need it. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started, the need for support has doubled.
The pandemic is like a hot stove that a pot of water is placed on. We all have stressors and pre-existing mental conditions, and during normal times we might be able to keep them under control through routines and coping mechanisms. But turn the heat up on that stove and the pot will boil over very quickly.
With a limited amount of volunteers, an even smaller amount of psychologists to refer people to, and increased demand for help, it is getting harder and harder to open email and see requests like this:
Hey, I’ve been feeling low lately and my boyfriend has been repeatedly trying to kill himself, I feel so useless and I guess I’m just trying find out how I can help us both feel better.
At this time, we are certainly not the only ones feeling overwhelmed and limited in our ability to help. And all we have is: to do what we can and turn to the Lord. For He is there to help us when every other avenue fails. He will still be there.
We pray for those that are suffering in mind and body at this time of pandemic.
We pray for mercy dear Lord.