Mental Health Awareness Month
October 10 2019 By Zarina Bulbulia
October marks Mental Health Awareness Month in South Africa, and there is no better opportunity to highlight one of South Africa's most prevalent topics - mental illnesses.
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) reported that as many as one in six South Africans suffer from anxiety, depression or substance-use problems (and this does not include more serious conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia).
Furthermore, research reveals that over 40% of people living with HIV in South Africa have a diagnosable mental disorder.
With these numbers rising over the years, the need for education on this matter is more important than ever.
With such a vast amount of South Africans being affected by mental health conditions, it is exceptionally vital that we dive deeper to gain an understanding of what having a mental illness means and work to eradicate the stigmas attached to it. By educating fellow South Africans, we can help to break the silence and eradicate discrimination.
With South Africa being ranked as the 2nd most stressed nation, it comes as no surprise that a large majority of our workplaces are affected by mental health issues and that this growing number has become an area of high concern for many businesses.
With the prominence of mental disabilities and overall poor mental health among our workforce, organisations need to be considering what they can do to address this all too often overlooked, but extremely important issue.
"Mental health is not given the priority it deserves in South Africa and there is very little research into mental health service conditions", says Zane Wilson, Director of SADAG. By educating South Africans and providing cost-effective mental health care, we can progressively improve how mental health issues are managed andsupported amongst community members.
The exposure to stressful life events like crime and violence, inadequate housing, unemployment and social conflict can all be closely linked to mental illness and the current state of the country.
By businesses taking the time to educate members of the workplace about mental health as a disability and providing adequate information to empower individuals to manage mental health issues, we can begin to improve the public's perception and make way for a community that provides support, understanding and empowerment to all.