News24  |   OLX  |   PriceCheck  |   Property24  |   Careers24  |   Spree

'It's okay to talk about it' - woman's depression struggle sparks mental health dialogues

06 September, 12:45 PM

Sumeya Gasa, News24

When Nonhlanhla Dube discovered that she suffered from anxiety and depression in 2010, it motivated her to start a new cause: Mental health awareness.

Eight years later, she hosted her first mental health awareness dialogue in Tembisa, Johannesburg.

Dube said her own struggle with anxiety, stress and depression prompted her to organise an event where community members could discuss and learn more about mental health. 

"When I started realising that I might have a mental issue, I was in my first year of varsity," Dube.

She said she was hesitant to face the reality of mental illness at first. So, she started smoking as a coping mechanism.

"It got so bad last year that I had fits because I was so stressed," she said. "I had seizures for two hours."

Health24: Depression

The 27-year-old activist added that she realised that part of the problem was the silence and stigma attached to mental illness. She sees her project as something which could avoid some of the issues that arose during the early years of HIV/AIDS.

"If you go back to issues such as HIV/AIDS, people died. A lot of people died because they were afraid of being labelled as ill," says Dube.

Her hope is to dismantle the stigmas attached to mental illness and to develop support structures for those in need.

"I'm hoping that the people that came [to the public dialogue], even if they didn't get help for themselves, they got help for someone else, " she said. "And that they will use the platforms they were given [and] the numbers they were given, to call." 

Health24: 1 in 4 workers suffers from depression

This year, Dube and her friend, Lena Sibisi, co-founded Blackbird Projects – a non-profit organisation (NPO) focusing largely on child and youth development, with a broader interest in community development. It was under the umbrella of Blackbird Projects that Dube decided to host the mental health dialogue in Tembisa to encourage discussions around mental health issues. 

Dube and Sibisi hope to see the NPO changing lives through promoting community-run interventions to tackle socio-economic issues in Tembisa and surrounds.

Follow us


Have you captured the next viral video? Are you on the scene of a big news event? Share your video with us and it could be featured on News24 Video! Email Tweet a reply