“Depression does not discriminate – and can affect any race, age, gender or religion.” Every day should be Mental Health Day.

Today is World Mental Health Day and this year’s international theme is Youth and Mental Health.

There is a constant rise in reports of youth suicides, with the youngest one being only 6 years old, reported in 2017. In the last month there were several reports of university student suicides, and just last week a 15-year-old boy took his own life.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) deals with hundreds of calls each day related to youth and mental health – parents, teachers, universities, churches, communities and fellow teens in need of help.

The state of the youth and mental health crisis in South Africa

SADAG has released these figures:

  • 31.5% of teen suicide attempts required medical treatment;
  • 17.6% of teens had considered attempting suicide;
  • 1 in 4 university students had been diagnosed with depression;
  • Over 20% of 18-year-olds had one or more suicide attempts;
  • According to the WHO, half of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age but most cases are undetected and untreated;
  • Male youth die by suicide more than female youth;
  • 1 in 6 teens are/will be addicted to cannabis.

Throughout this year we have heard of more and more university students who don’t cope under the pressure and aren’t able to cope with their problems, which has resulted in many suicides on campus. University students experience depression, stress and anxiety every day – sometimes without any knowledge they are suffering from a mental illness.

Clinical psychologist and SADAG board member Zamo Mbele says, “Unfortunately this has lead to many suicides which we can’t afford as a caring society. World Mental Health Day is important in spotlighting mental illness and promoting mental wellness for the student population, which is a growing vulnerable group.”

“Depression does not discriminate” 

Depression does not discriminate – it can affect any race, age, gender or religion. It’s important that parents, teachers, grandparents, loved ones and entire communities know that depression can affect young people too, even a 6-year-old child.

It is important to know the signs and symptoms of depression, the suicide warning signs and how to get help before it is too late.

“From the hundreds of calls that SADAG receives every day, children, teens and young adults are dealing with many problems they feel they can’t handle,” says operations director Cassey Chambers.

By creating awareness and information we can educate more people on how to help young people in SA and get them help before it is too late.

Exam stress

“With the matric final exams about to start, as well as all other exams for other grades and at universities – students will be dealing with increased pressure and stress, on top of everything they have been dealing with throughout the year,” says Zamo Mbele.

The old African proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child is no more truer than with mental health now. Empowering teachers, parents, grandparents, churches, friends and family about the issues of youth and mental health is critical if we want to be able to get young people help before it is too late, and help prevent youth suicides.

According to Celebrity and Youth Ambassador, Penny Lebyane, “Mental Health is currently a great challenge for the youth and we need ways to help them understand how the mind works and what help is available. Mental health is where it all starts and can end.”

Every day should be #WorldMentalHealthDay – parent24.com