To try and curb the stigma or discrimination against people living with mental illnesses, October has been declared Mental Health Awareness Month. The aim is also to enlighten the public about the condition.
According to statistics released by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), as many as one in five South Africans suffer from anxiety, depression or substance use problems. This does not include more serious conditions such as bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. Common mental health problems include depression, anxiety, substance abuse and job related stress.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that depression is likely to become the second most common cause of disability in South Africa. Research shows that world-wide mental health illnesses affect more than 300 million people.
SADAG also explains that 22 people commit suicide in South Africa and 220 people attempt suicide. 9.5% of teen deaths are due to suicide. Up to 6 million people may be suffering from PTSD.
According to Mayo Clinic, mental illnesses symptoms includes feeling sad or down, confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate, excessive fears of worries, extreme mood changes of highs and lows, withdrawal from friends and activities, tiredness and problems sleeping, inability to cope with daily problems or stress, trouble relating to people, problems with alcohol or drug use, excessive anger etc.
If you have any signs or symptoms of a mental health condition or you have suicidal thoughts seek professional help from your doctor or nearest clinic/hospital. If you ever want to talk, you can contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group for free on 0800 2122 23, 0800 7080 90, 0800 456 789 or the suicide helpline on 0800 567 567.