Mental Health In South Africa
The topic of mental health is growing across the world, as more and more people step forward to share their stories.
Mental health has a powerful voice, with South African public figures such as: Trevor Noah, Salamina Mosese, Minnie Dlamini, iFani, Bonnie Mbuli, HHP, and Nonhle Thema. These public figures are now using their voices to speak up about their experiences.
Everyone now has an outlet, not only celebrities, through sites such as Twitter and Instagram by using hashtags like: #ShareTheDignity #MentalHealthAwareness #ItsOkayNotToBeOkay and #MentalHealthMatters.
Growing social media platforms who focus on mental illness support help continue the conversation.
Although we see substantial growth around the stigma of mental health, there is still much more to be done. In South Africa, the fight against stigma and for quality mental healthcare needs aid.
Through resources from health-focused organisations, this article looks at just some of the information, statistics, and stigmas surrounding mental illness.
Mental Health Stigma
Although mental health is widely recognized, the illness carries a stigma that affects how many people view it and the people it affects. Disgrace from friends, colleagues, family, or even healthcare workers causes mental illness to be even darker and isolating.
When mental health conditions are not given adequate representation and awareness, work and home environments may not provide enough support and assistance.
People may not know how to identify mental health symptoms and understand the conditions. Even in healthcare facilities across South Africa, patients do not receive sufficient quality care.
With a limited number of qualified healthcare professionals in the public facilities, running at overcapacity is inevitable. Healthcare staff, in general, can also suffer from a lack of information and stigma.
Public healthcare facilities cannot provide enough quality mental healthcare, with the President of the South African Society of Psychiatrists saying “the country does not have enough specialists to address mental health”.
In an article about the help available to mental health patients, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group expressed that “the biggest problem was a lack of treatment in public health institutions and the stigma attached to mental health”.
Stigma is not a problem that stays within the confines of the guilty party. With the shame that mental illness has carried for centuries, mental health patients suffer because of their fear.
The misunderstanding of mental health from someone’s support system and society adds to the complexity.
Throughout centuries, mental health patients have been seen negatively with mockery, isolation, humiliation, or being locked away. Although today’s society is seeing a rise in the awareness of mental healthcare, there are many hurdles to still overcome.
In South Africa, “treatment can be difficult to access, while a fear of stigma also prevents many people from seeking the help required to live healthy and productive lives” (The South African Depression and Anxiety Group).
Mental Health Statistics & Information
Global and South African Mental Health Statistics
The above statistics make it clear that the current system is failing. The social and economic gains to be reaped from the improved mental health of our nation are enormous.
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Related content and resources
- Self-help Mental Health Toolkit
- Is Online Therapy For Me? 9 Essential Considerations
- How do I know if I should see a psychologist?
- Should I see a psychiatrist, psychologist, counsellor or social worker?
- 10 Key Questions for your Psychiatrist or Therapist
- 5 Smart Ways to Get the Most Out of Teletherapy
- >60 Warning Signs of Mental and Emotional Abuse