Mental illness, and the stigma surrounding it, is a critical issue in South Africa. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) is at the forefront of patient advocacy, education and destigmatisation of mental illness in the country. Its expertise lies in assisting patients and callers throughout South Africa with mental health queries.
SADAG is a Non-Profit Organisation, a Registered Section 21 Company, with an 18a tax exemption. It has on its board a powerful team of Patients, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, and General Practitioners. SADAG was established twenty years ago to serve as a support network for the thousands of South Africans who live with mental health problems. Currently, it is estimated that 1 in 5 people will, or do, suffer from a mental illness. SADAG manages a 16-line counselling-and-referral call centre, and is the voice of patient advocacy, working in urban, peri-urban, and the most rural communities across South Africa.
SADAG’s activities are carried out through:
- A network of over 200 Support Groups throughout South Africa (including outreach groups in remote rural areas), where the community members lack access to resources and have no funds for treatment.
- A professional counselling staff, headquartered in Sandton, Gauteng, who operate the counselling lines from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.
- Educational materials, including free multilingual brochures on mental health issues, including depression, bipolar, PTSD, OCD, anxiety, trauma, sleeping disorders, schizophrenia, teen suicide and substance abuse.
- A monthly newsletter is sent out to over 20 000 callers and we have DVD’s and books available.
- A referral service to mental health professionals, and free medical treatment where available.
- A comprehensive and informative website that can be accessed at www.sadag.org
- SADAG offers workshops and training programmes countrywide, in various languages. These include Commercial and large Corporates, Traditional Healers, Home-Based Care Workers, Hospitals and Clinics, Correctional Facilities, Schools, Universities, Churches, and Youth Groups. Topics include Depression, Panic, Bipolar, Dealing with Stress, PTSD, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Stigma.
- SADAG has worked in schools in all 9 provinces, with learners, parents and educators. Our programme “Suicide Shouldn’t be a Secret” is aimed at reducing SA’s high rate of teen suicide. 9.5 % of all teen deaths are due to suicide. SADAG teaches youths that Depression is treatable and Suicide is preventable.
- SADAG also does extensive EAPs, corporate training, and employee wellness days.
- Powerful media campaigns designed to destigmatise mental illness and promote mental health are at the forefront of SADAG’s patient advocacy work. In order to achieve this, SADAG runs TV and radio adverts, sends out weekly press releases to print, radio and electronic media, as well as running specific campaigns to raise awareness of Bipolar Disorder, Teen Suicide, Men and Depression and Panic Disorder. SADAG has produced over a dozen radio adverts, in various languages, and 8 TV adverts. Most months, SADAG’s media exposure amounts to over R5 million.
- SADAG is recognised for its work in rural communities in the identification of depression in HIV and Aids patients, and the training of Home-based Care Workers in how to recognise the symptoms, as well as where to access treatment for their patients. Many have started support groups in their community.