July is Mental Health Awareness Month

IN South Africa, one in three people will, or have, a mental illness, yet 80% of people with a mental illness do not get treatment. During July, Mental Health Awareness Month, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag), wants to create awareness to encourage more people to seek help, treatment and support. There are 23 ”successful” suicides and a further 230 attempted suicides every 24 hours in this country. More needs to be done to help so many people who feel helpless and hopeless.

Due to the high prevalence of depression and anxiety in the country, Sadag, through a grant from Adcock Ingram Pharmaceuticals, is launching a dedicated depression and anxiety helpline (0800 70 80 90) which offers free telephonic counselling and referrals for callers to psychologists, psychiatrists, GPs, hospitals, clinics, support groups, counselling centres and other NGOs, nationwide. “Stigma is still a major problem in South African society. Many people don’t know where to go or who to speak to for help - people fear they will be judged or discriminated against, or that others will think they are weak. By educating the population about mental illness, we can create more awareness and encourage more people to seek treatment,” says Sadag’s Cassey Chambers.

Throughout Mental Health Awareness Month Sadag will also create awareness through various initiatives:

• Launch the “I am” campaign which has real people sharing real stories of their mental illness. The campaign seeks to #Break theStigma about people living with mental illness and encourages people to talk about their experience and remind them they are people, not their illness.

• There will be online Facebook Friday chats with experts answering questions related to challenging mental health issues on how to get help for panic on 10 July and then we will discuss understanding personality disorders on 24 July at 1pm and 7pm

• Promote Sadag’s 250+ support groups throughout the country, which provide a safe, caring environment for people living with a mental illness, as well as family members, an opportunity to share experiences and gain support

• Share helpful articles, information and videos via online platforms such as website www.sadag.org facebook (“The South African Depression and Anxiety Group”) and twitter @TheSADAG

Latest mental health statistics:

• Over 30% of the SA population will or do have a mental disorder in their lifetime.

• One in four in people in the workplace have been diagnosed with depression.

• One in four female teens have made one or more suicide attempts.

• 31.5% teens have attempted suicide who needed medical treatment.

Compared with 14 countries in the WMH Survey, South Africa is the second highest for substance abuse disorders (13.3%). The sixth highest for anxiety disorders (15.8%) and the seventh highest for mood disorders (9.8%).

To contact Sadag:

• Toll-free helpline: 0800 70 80 90

• SMS: 31393

• Website: www.sadag.org

• Facebook: The South African Depression and Anxiety Group

• Twitter: @TheSADAG

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