October is Mental Health Awareness month.The goal of the national campaign (and ours!) is to educate the public on mental health so that South Africans might have a better understanding of recognising and handling mental illnesses. It also aims to tackle the stigmas and discrimination that are commonly associated with mental illness, in hopes of eradicating them. The importance of this topic is relevant as numbers seem to have gradually been increasing over time.
A 2017 study performed by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group estimates that one in five South Africans already are, or will suffer from a mental health disorder at some point in their lives. Another 2017 study from Bloomberg indicated that South Africa is the 2nd most stressed country in the world, behind Nigeria. These are important statistics to know because the mental health of one’s self largely contribute to society as a whole. Experiences linked to crime, violence and unemployment as well as job stress can all be linked to the mental health of the country.
How can we work together to address mental health?
Help those on the ground. In our Mental Health Awareness month Campaign, we have Causes that focus on helping those in need of assistance. You can find Opportunities to get involved here.
Be supportive. Support comes in all shapes and sizes. Whether it’s educating yourself on mental illnesses, having patience with one another or trying to understand another person’s plight, being supportive is a great way to fight against discrimination and stigmas associated with mental illnesses.
Utilise resources. Use resources to not only educate yourself, but to help others too. The South African Anxiety and Depression Group (SADAG) is a great place to find information about depression, anxiety, suicide, bipolar disorders, trauma and more.
Talk to each other. One of the best ways to learn, in both understanding and overcoming mental illnesses, is to become comfortable talking about them. This means talking to family, friends, medical professionals or your peers. Conversation is a great way to beat the stigma against mental illness back!
With a little bit of education and support for one another, we can make a difference!