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Mental Health Issues on the Rise in South Africa: SADAG

Azra Hoosen | ah@radioislam.co.za
24 April 2024 | 14:30 CAT
2 min read

The IPSOS World Mental Health Survey has unveiled alarming statistics, indicating that over 70% of South Africans experience stress levels that render them unable to cope with life’s demands. This places the country among the highest globally in terms of mental health disorders.

Fatima Seedat, Development Manager at the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), emphasises the challenges people face in accessing the necessary support and assistance in an interview with Radio Islam.

Seedat highlighted that when examining the mental health landscape in South Africa, it is evident that many individuals are contending with various challenges. These include political uncertainty, the impact of load-shedding and water shortages, elevated stress levels, financial difficulties, and the pervasive issues of gender-based violence (GBV) and abuse.

“Compared to before COVID-19, we used to get about 800 calls a day; now, we get 3000 and more calls daily,” she said.

Seedat suggests that since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a notable shift in awareness regarding the significance of mental health both on an individual level and within the broader community.

“Through increased awareness, people talked about it more, and more information was fed to people, decreasing stigma. More people are speaking out,” she added.

Seedat asserted one of the major challenges is the insufficient availability of resources to support mental health needs.

“If you look at the number of psychologists and psychiatrists per person in SA, you are looking at 1 psychiatrist per 100,000 and 3 psychologists per 100,000, which is next to nothing. Due to the lack of resources and because many people don’t have medical aid and finances to reach out to get help so, more people are not getting the right treatment they need and are even reluctant to get help because there are long queues at hospitals and often they get sent home without being consulted or with just a panado,” she said.

SADAG urges the government to allocate more funding for mental health care. According to Seedat, despite being one of the most overburdened sectors, mental health receives only 5% of the health budget.

“From SADAG’s point of view, if we make community counsellors more available and have more people based in communities they can assist, it may be easier for people to get help. It lessens the burden on an overburdened sector, but we need the government to put more budget in place for mental health care,” she said.

LISTEN to the full interview with Ml Sulaimaan Ravat and Fatima Seedat, Development Manager (SADAG), here.

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