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Research on Depression in the Workplace.

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MHM Volume 8 Issue1

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Literacy is a luxury that many of us take for granted. That is why SADAG created SPEAKING BOOKS and revolutionized the way healthcare information is delivered to low literacy communities.

The customizable 16-page book, read by local celebrity audio recordings, ensures that vital health and social messages can be seen, heard, read and understood by everyone across the world.

We started with books on Teen Suicide prevention , HIV, AIDS and Depression, Understanding Mental Health and have developed over 100+ titles, such as TB, Malaria, Polio, Vaccines for over 45 countries.

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Speaking Books Recognized as Making Major Contribution to Health Care in Rural South Africa

The 2008 Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management

(CAPAM) International Innovations Awards programme invited Commonwealth

members to submit services or ideas that 'demonstrate excellence in service

delivery and citizen engagement'. Submissions were ranked based on the

following criteria: effectiveness, innovation, relevance, significance,

replicability and appropriateness to national or local context. This year

from 140 applicants, one South African innovation , The Speaking Book , has

made the Top 10.

Also in the finals are participants from Singapore, Malaysia, Kenya, India

and Canada, with Health care, IT and Agriculture some of the fields of

innovation. Presentations will be made in Barbados on Thursday and Friday and

the winner will be announced on Wednesday 22nd of October. .

"SADAG are really excited and honoured to have been chosen as a Top 10

Finalist", says Wilson. "We know how well the Books work and what a a

huge difference they make to the people who need it most. We are really

looking forward to sharing and showcasing the Speaking Book s to the

rest of the commonwealth".

The Speaking Book, a world first, was conceived by SADAG, the South

African Depression and Anxiety Group (NGO) , to create an interactive,

multilingual educational tool that can be seen, read, heard and understood

by the reader regardless of their reading ability.

Illiteracy is a life-threatening problem that jeopardizes health care

globally, further aggravated by the lack of capacity and resources in

Africa to provide even the most basic personal instruction and education.

Previously the most cost-efficient means of educating people has been

through written pamphlets and brochures, but there is now universal

agreement that this is ineffective . In South Africa up to 30% of South

African adults are illiterate.

In South Africa 1 in 5 people suffer from depression and other mental

illnesses and for many, particularly those in rural areas, it's especially

hard as stigma and misunderstanding are huge hurdles and many suffer in

silence. This is why three years ago SADAG started working with books that

had sound tracks. A key component was to use a celebrity voice such as

Lillian Dube, Zwai Bala, Rosie Motene, and Redi Direko which research

indicated helped the listener identify with the problem and not feel as


The Speaking

Book s, were then produced in a variety of languages for South Africa,

including, Zulu, Pedi, Xhosa and Sotho and more recently have crossed the

border to include, Portugeese and Swahili, and Spanish and Mandarrin further


The South Africa Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), SA's largest mental

health NGO, has been committed for the past 15 years to educating the public

on critical health issues. Topics which have been covered apart from mental health which

inculudes Teen suicide prevention, Depression in AIDS patients and

Understanding bipolar and schizophrenia, have been expanded to include,

Malaria, Treating TB, Preventing youth from rishky behaviours which can

cause AIDs, Vaccines , and Diabetes

"Leaving written information and pamphlets in areas with low levels of literacy

is expensive and once the organisation has left the area, there is no

back-up for communities" says Speaking Books creator Zane Wilson, “”The Book is a simple tool

that allows anyone access to information in a time frame that suits them

and in the privacy of their own home They can be played as often as

required to reinforce the message.

Speaking Books are hardbacked, battery driven, full of big, bright colourful

local drawings and the panel of 16 buttons along the side allows the reader

to activate the audio message that follows the text of each page of the

Speaking Book – allowing the sick, elderly , children or low literacy

readers to access healthcare information and help.

The Books are distributed to Community care Workers, Home based Care

Workers , Faith based organisations, who are encouraged to leave the book

with patients who don't read well and who often live in areas with little

access to health care. . Research shows that each book reaches a minimum

of 27 people, with messages that are “”Ëasy to understand”” by 98% of the Home

Based Care workers, 93% indicated that they learnt new facts from the books and70% of patients said that the

Books helped them understand their illness..

The bo0ks are being distributed far more than was initially hoped. They

are being shown at shopping centres, clinics, churches, taxi ranks, bottle

stores, shebeens ( local pubs), even weddings and savings clubs." and have

rapidly been adopted by local communities as their local resource for important and sensitive health care information.

They are now being moved into other areas such as teaching people How to

access government grants and what documents are required, How to care for a

child headed household, How to register and vote, and How to open a bank account and use a credit card.


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