Addressing the Mental Health Pandemic in South Africa

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Talking about mental health, acknowledging it, seeking help … these are some incredible strides being made. But there is much, much more work to do.

More and more people have spoken (some publicly, others privately) about their mental health struggles. In turn, they’ve empowered others to do the same and shifted the needle forward towards a place where we all understand mental health.

The goal is not just to amplify awareness but to raise mental health issues, which impact our daily lives, in an empathetic way. 

Be that as it may, in South Africa, we have an incredibly long way to go towards addressing the “mental health pandemic”.

In 2022, the Wits-/Medical Research Council Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit released a paper titled, The prevalence of probable depression and probable anxiety, and the associations with adverse childhood experiences and socio-demographics: A National Survey in South Africa.

The paper was the result of a survey that concluded that “more than a quarter of South Africans suffered with probable depression”.

The data was, according to the scientists, much higher than comparative studies conducted in the US (6.9% in 2011), Germany (5.6% in 2013) and Australia (10% in 2014), putting South Africa as one of the most affected countries in terms of mental health. 

Moreover, According to the second Annual Mental State of the World Report 2021 from Sapien Labs, published in March 2022, South Africa ranks as one of the worst countries regarding mental health.

South Africans also still deal with the shame and stigma associated with various mental health problems, which range from mental illness, mental and brain disorders as well as other psychological factors that may impact one’s mental wellbeing.

It is also important to acknowledge that society is moving past the point where addressing one’s mental health is seen as a sign of “weakness”. It is recognised as a strength to be able to speak out or seek the appropriate help. 

Profmed recognises your needs, which is why we have various support programmes to help our members, such as WHISPA, a confidential programme created to support members who are experiencing abuse or need telephonic or face-to-face counselling.

The World Health Organisation also recognises mental health as a “universal human right” and a “basic human right for all”.
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