Oct 2019 1st Edition

Face-to-face with mental health

Written by Allison Cooper

Every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide. This is according to the World Health Organisation(WHO).

World Mental Health Day, on 10 October, sees the world unite to improve people’s mental health around the world. This year’s theme is suicide prevention.

Efforts to raise awareness of the high suicide rate around the world and the role that each of us can play to help prevent it started on 10 September, World Suicide Prevention Day, and continue until 10 October.

The WHO is encouraging people around the world to take 40 seconds of action on 10 October, to improve awareness of the significance of suicide as a global public health problem; improve knowledge of what can be done to prevent suicide; reduce the stigma associated with suicide; and let people who are struggling know that they are not alone.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month, also observed in South Africa in October, creates awareness around the many mental health conditions and how people suffering from these illnesses can get help.

Due to the stigma associated with mental health disorders, many people do not reach out for help. The end result could be tragic.

Since January 2019, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) received over 145 000 calls to its 22 Helpline Call Centres. Of these, 41 800 were to the Suicide Helpline, with people seeking crisis intervention and urgent help.

SADAG’s Operations Director Cassey Chambers said a significant number of people contemplating suicide experience anxiety, depression and hopelessness and may feel that there is no other option. Many of the callers who felt suicidal were facing relationship issues, financial problems and trauma. “But the main contributing factor was undiagnosed and untreated depression,” said Chambers.

According to the Department of Health, some people suffering from depression experience the following symptoms;

  • Miserable for at least two weeks, all day, every day.
  • They feel sad, down or depressed.
  • Lose interest in nearly all of the activities they previously enjoyed.
  • Fatigue and inability to concentrate.
  • Feeling worthless or guilty.
  • They could also have suicidal thoughts.

The Department of Health also highlighted that people with generalised anxiety disorder experience hard to control, excessive worrying about a variety of issues from health and family problems to money, school and work. This results in physical and mental complaints, from muscle tension and restlessness to becoming easily tired and irritable, experiencing poor concentration and insomnia.

Mental health disorders can be treated. For more information, go to your nearest clinic, hospital or healthcare provider. You can also call SADAG’s Suicide Crisis Line at 0800 567 567, its Mental Health Line at 011 234 4837, or LifeLine at 0861 322 322.

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