world mental health day


World Mental Health Day: South Africa does little to address depression and other mental illnesses

As a country, not much has been achieved in building a society that embraces mental illness.

world mental health day


For those who are distressed, help is available. Contact SADAG on: 011 234 4837

Wednesday, 10 October marks World Mental Health Day. However, the topic of our mental health should be at the forefront more often than it is.

In South Africa, the statistics on deaths caused by mental illness are disturbing – to say the least. The country only keeps estimates on suicide rates, but globally, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is one of the leading causes of death.

South Africa not quick enough to raise awareness

There aren’t enough facilities and resources in South Africa that are catered towards people suffering from depression and anxiety. These topics are often brushed aside or never embraced in homes that raise young adults who experience this the most.

Read: 60 mental health NGOs in Gauteng “technically illegal” after licensing issues

IOL News reported that:

New York, this week became the first state in the US to launch mandatory mental health classes for students in elementary, middle and high schools.

This means that pupils in all the grades will now be taught how to deal with depression, anxiety, bipolar and the stigma surrounding the chronic illnesses and how to better deal with them.

It is a critical decision that will definitely educate those who know little about what people who suffer from mental illness go through. Insensitivity and lack of knowledge is the reason why people disregard the seriousness of depression, a state of mind that affects many young people in the world.

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South Africa’s mental health in numbers

Furthermore, WHO reported that half of the time, mental illness occurs around the age of 14.

“In terms of the burden of the disease among adolescents, depression is the third leading cause. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds.

“Harmful use of alcohol and illicit drugs among adolescents is a major issue in many countries and can lead to risky behaviours such as unsafe sex or dangerous driving. Eating disorders are also of concern.” the WHO stated.

Moreover, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) revealed that about one in five of South African high school learners has tried to take their own life at some point. 

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Nothing much has changed since the 2011 Youth Risk Behaviour Survey (YRBS) uncovered that 25% of Grade eight to 11 learners in South Africa had, at some point in their lives, felt too sad and hopeless to engage in their usual daily activities.

Dr Sebolelo Seape, the Chairperson of the Psychiatry Management Group (PsychMG) expressed the need for the focus to shift to educating parents and guardians on the risks and warning signs of suicide and suicidal thoughts.

“Prevention of teen suicides starts with a better understanding of the symptoms of depression.” she stated.

People who may be suffering in silence have been encouraged to reach out to the following organisations for help:

SA Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) 

011 234 4837 (8am-8pm Mondays to Sundays)

Suicidal emergency line 0800 567 567

24hr helpline 0800 121314


Helpline (24hrs) 0861 322 322

Use for useful resources and contact groups in the various provinces.