LISTEN | Mental Health Awareness Month amid Covid-19

15 October 2020 - 16:05
By Amina Deka Asma
'Mental health is a human right – it’s time that mental health is prioritised and made available for all,' says the South African Depression and Anxiety Group.
Image: 123RF/Andriy Popov 'Mental health is a human right – it’s time that mental health is prioritised and made available for all,' says the South African Depression and Anxiety Group.

According to the department of international relations & co-operation, October has been declared Mental Health Awareness Month. The objective is to educate the public about mental health and reduce the stigma and discrimination which people with mental illnesses are often subjected to.

The South African mental health fact sheet states that about one in three South Africans do or will have a mental health issue at some point in their lifetime. But only one in 10 South Africans have had mental health treatment or care.

Master transformation coach Liezl Thom emphasised the importance of mental health awareness in society.

“Mental health awareness in SA is critical for a healthy society, as our mental wellbeing is a crucial part of our overall health. Unfortunately, we don't talk about mental health and mental health issues nearly enough, mainly because of the stigma that has long surrounded mental illnesses,” said Thom.

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Registered counsellor and campus wellness co-ordinator under Higher Health, Lulutho Dingiswayo, touched on some of the reasons why mental health awareness is important at every stage of life.

“Mental health relates to our thoughts, our feelings and our behaviours and it is with this awareness that we can identity how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices, during all stages of our lives,” said Dingiswayo.

In its latest newsletter, the South African Depression and Anxiety group (Sadag) said: “The past few months have brought many challenges for all of us and taking care of our mental health is crucial during a time when our daily lives have changed considerably as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Mental health is a human right — it’s time that mental health is prioritised and made available for all. Quality, accessible primary health care is the foundation for universal health coverage and is urgently required as the world grapples with the current health emergency.”