It’s an Unequal World and Mental Health Really Matters
The international theme for World Mental Health Day (10 October 2021) is Mental Health in an Unequal World, which couldn’t be truer for South Africa. With 1 in 3 South Africans who will or do have a Mental Health issue at some point in their lifetime, and only 1 in 10 people with a mental illness accessing Mental Health – and these were pre-COVID stats. It is important that The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) keep raising awareness about Mental Health issues in South Africa, and keep advocating for better treatment and care so that we can see the gap in treatment closing for the all those in our population who need care.
SADAG works every day to bridge the gap for people in our communities who are trying to get mental health help and care, and don’t know how to navigate the Mental Health system. “SADAG’s Helplines have received over 466 400 calls since January 2021, with 1 in every 5 calls being a Suicide related issue. We are continuing to see an increase in the number of calls to our Helplines each and every day, with 1800 – 2200 incoming calls per day. Thank goodness that there is a place like SADAG for people to reach out to and get help,” says Cassey Chambers, Operations Director at SADAG.
We know that COVID has impacted all aspects of Mental Health – those living with a Mental Health issue before COVID, as well as many more people across the globe experiencing issues because of the stressors of COVID leading to the experts around the world saying that the Mental Health impact is now the second pandemic to come out of COVID19. “The state of mental healthcare in South Africa was in crisis long before COVID19, and we need to ensure that mental health is prioritised across all sectors, provinces, and ages, to help the growing demand for Mental Health services,” says Dr Colinda Linde, Clinical Psychologist and SADAG Board Chairperson.
Some of the key issues that SADAG are wanting to raise the profile on during on World Mental Health Day, as well as through October as Mental Health Awareness Month:
The state of Mental Health in South Africa has been under the spotlight for many years, highlighting the lack of resources, facilities, human resources and community mental health. While so much still needs to happen to improve mental healthcare and access in the country, SADAG has spent the last 27 years helping to raise the agenda of Mental Health and provide support, information and resources to hundreds of thousands of people throughout the country. In difficult times like these, it is important to focus on what we can do together to help improve Mental Health care and access to treatment.
“Over the last 27 years, we have been able to break some of the stigma around mental illness, having more people share their own stories and experiences has helped us greatly to break the stigma around mental illness. But more needs to be done to help encourage more people to get help and let them know that it’s okay not to be okay, but that there is help and they are not alone, more activity is needed in rural areas with poverty, fewer clinics and limited Mental Health care” says SADAG Founder, Zane Wilson.
SADAG launched a Community Counselling Container in Diepsloot that has a community of over 300 000 people, and provides free Mental Health counselling and support. A new one has just been opened in Ivory Park to help the 180 000 people who need their free mental health services. We are working with Clinics, Schools, Churches, Police other NGO’s and whoever needs care and referrals.
To further build a community of mental health support, especially during COVID, SADAG has launched many additional free Support Groups over the last 18 months, many of them being online Support Groups so anyone, anywhere, can access a Support Group and feel less alone, more understood and part of a network of people who have gone through similar situations.
During October, SADAG will be coordinating the following activities:
To keep up to date with our webinars, talks, wellness days, Support Groups, events, etc – please visit our website www.sadag.org or follow SADAG on social media (@TheSADAG) to help make #MentalHealthMatter every day.
Mental Illness does not discriminate against age, race, gender, socio-economic status or religion. “We still have a long way to go to break down the stigma and improve our mental health treatment and care in South Africa, we owe it to everyone who feels alone, or isolated, or ashamed of their mental illness. We owe it to families who are impacted and don’t know how to get help or support. And we owe it to our most vulnerable group of people who are not able to speak for themselves and deserve better care and treatment today and every day,” says Cassey Chambers (SADAG Director).
Chat online with a counsellor 7 days a week from 9am - 4pm via the Cipla Whatsapp Chat Line 076 882 2775. SMS 31393 or 32312 and a counsellor will call you back – available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. SADAG Helplines providing free telephonic counselling, information, referrals and resources 7 days a week, 24 hours a day – call 0800 21 22 23, 0800 70 80 90 or 0800 456 789 or the Suicide Helpline 0800 567 567.