SAD IS BAD: Mental health problems are as damaging for your health as nicotine
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About 23 South Africans with mental health problems commit suicide everyday.
According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group 460 people attempt suicide every 24 hours. Celebrating world health day on Thursday‚ SADAG hosted a summit on mental health in Sandton. The organisation stated that 16.5% of South Africans suffered from common mental health problems.
The biggest problem was the lack of treatment in public health institutions and the stigma attached to mental health.
South African is in the bottom four of countries providing mental health treatment with 75% of clinic staff who do not have a caring attitude.
President of the South African Society of Psychiatrists Dr Mvuyiswa Talatala said the country does not have enough specialists to address mental health. He said on average since the year 2000 less than 20 student psychiatrists passed every year.
He said it was unacceptable that a person should wait four months to see a psychiatrist.
"The biggest problem is access to medical health. Government is blocking access to treatment. In some government hospitals there are only two psychiatrists.”
Talatala who runs a private practice in Diepkloof‚ Soweto‚ said black people were more aware of mental health.
"We need to change attitudes. Not everyone can afford private healthcare and as a result they are out there committing suicide. I also believe we need research on what happens to people who have attempted suicide‚” he said.
Television personalities Lilian Dube who suffered from depression and Leeann Manas who suffered from anxiety and panic attacks encouraged people to seek help.
"As soon as I found out what was wrong with me I knew I could get over it because I had answers. If you do not help yourself the problem will not go away‚" said Manas.
Dube encouraged people to get help from anyone who would listen to them.
"There are people who are comfortable seeking help from sangomas and that is fine because sangomas listen and that is very important‚" she said.