Wednesday the 10th of October is World Mental Health Day and this year’s international theme is Youth and Mental Health. With rising reports of youth suicides, the youngest suicide - 6 years old, reported in 2017, in the last month we had reports of several university student suicides, and just last week a 15 year old boy killed himself. 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 Youth and Mental Health Crisis in South Africa:

Throughout this year, we have heard of more and more university students don't cope under the pressure and not being able to cope with their problems, which has resulted in many suicides on campus. University students experience Depression, Stress and Anxiety everyday without any knowledge they are suffering from a Mental Illness. "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." says Clinical Psychologist and SADAG Board Member, Zamo Mbele.

Depression does not discriminate – and 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. The main triggers include relationship problems, family issues, abuse, loss or grief and trauma. Other contributing factors include exam stress, substance abuse, bullying, learning difficulties, financial issues and chronic illness. “The youth are not equipped with enough coping skills or support structures to handle the kind of problems that they have to deal with every day.”

SADAG is running an online campaign throughout October to eliminate Stigma surrounding Mental Health, and to encourage young people to talk about important topics related to Mental Health. SADAG’s #WhatIf Campaign will focus on social media, follow Facebook (The South African Depression and Anxiety Group) and Twitter (@TheSADAG), talking questions such as:

SADAG are highlighting #YouthMentalHealth in various activities throughout the month of October, which include:

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. SADAG runs various Helpline that offer free telephonic counselling, information and referrals for people dealing with any mental health issue including stress, 7 days a week:

Suicide Helpline 0800 567 567
24 hour Cipla Mental Health Helpline 0800 456 789
24 hour Substance Abuse Helpline 0800 12 13 14
Sms 31393 

“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.

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. - Celebrity and Youth Ambassador, Penny Lebyane

Every day should be #WorldMentalHealthDay.

Below are a list of Helplines which SADAG runs that offer free telephonic counselling, information and referrals for people dealing with any mental health issue including stress, 7 days a week: