The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) is a registered Non-Profit Organisation, a Registered Section 21 Company, with an 18A tax exemption. SADAG is the leading voice of patient advocacy in the mental health sector, working in urban, peri-urban and the most rural communities across South Africa. SADAG is at the forefront of increasing psychosocial education and training at various levels which involves the training of support group leaders, peer counsellors at a lay counselling level, progressing to the training and development of recognised mental health counsellors in the healthcare sector.
SADAG has on its Board a powerful team of patients, psychiatrists and psychologists. It was established 24 years ago to serve as a support network for thousands of South Africans who live with mental health problems and other associated disorders such as HIV/AIDS, TB and Substance Abuse. Currently, it is estimated that one in three people in South Africa will, or do, suffer from a mental illness at some point in their life.
SADAG also helps to facilitate over 200 Support Groups nationwide. These are run by patients for patients and offer a safe place for people living with mental health illnesses to share, network, connect and provide information on how they cope each day. The Support Groups are run once a week or once a month and there are currently groups for Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Post-Natal Depression and Substance Abuse. Many of the groups run meetings in areas that have little or no access to mental health providers which provides a bridge to treatment and offers patients and their loved ones after-care support.
We also run a Counselling Container in Diepsloot which has made an enormous impact on the community over the last five years. It is always busy, tackling different and unusual projects daily. We also have the support of Government Departments and other Non-Profit Organisation I the Diepsloot area.
Through the years of advocacy work, and creating awareness of Mental Health across the country, SADAG has developed various programmes including Rural Outreach Workshops where we host training sessions in rural communities for nurses, teachers, home based carers, traditional healers, community care workers, church counsellors and police on various mental health issues including the Understanding of Mental Health; Treating Trauma; Living with HIV/AIDS Doesn’t Mean Living with Depression; Substance Abuse; Suicide Prevention and other Coping Skills. We have hosted workshops throughout South Africa in rural communities to offer further capacity building, education and empowering community members to deal with mental health issues.
In South Africa, 21.4% of teenagers have considered committing suicide due to a combination of issues including relationship problems, trauma for various reasons including but not limited to family issues, violence, emotional or sexual abuse, bullying, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy and exam stress. Many learners are affected by peer pressure to use alcohol, start smoking and use drugs at early ages. Unfortunately, 60% of teenagers do not seek assistance, mainly because they do not know that there are resources available.
SADAG manages a 15 line counselling and referral call centre for all 9 provinces in South Africa, with an extensive database of state and private health care facilities, providers, practitioners as well as counselling centres, other non-government organisations, rehabilitation centres, shelters, doctors, social workers, and mental health professionals. The call centre receives up to 400 calls per day from people throughout the country needing help and referrals for various mental health issues including Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Trauma, Teen Pregnancy, Substance Abuse and Suicide. SADAG also runs the only Suicide Crisis Call Centre offering crisis intervention and help for people who are threatening or attempting suicide. Our helplines are manned by 100 volunteers, seven days a week from 8 am to 8 pm every day of the week including public holidays.
In addition, SADAG’s activities are carried out through:
- A monthly newsletter, which is sent out to over 30 000 callers. We also have books and DVD’s available on request.
- A referral service to mental health professionals across the country.
- A comprehensive and informative website which receives over 60 000 hits per month. The site contains local and international content, online videos, questionnaires, brochures and handouts.
- SADAG offers workshops and training programmes countrywide, in various languages. These include commercial and large Corporates, Traditional Healers, Home Based Care Workers, Hospitals, Clinics, Correctional Facilities, Universities, Churches and Youth Groups. Topics include Depression, Panic, Anxiety, Bipolar, Dealing with Post Traumatic Stress, Suicide Prevention, HIV/AIDS, Healthy Lifestyle Choices and Mental Health Stigma.
- SADAG also does extensive Corporate training and employee wellness days.
- Powerful media campaigns designed to destigmatise mental illness and promote mental health are at the forefront of our patient advocacy work. In order to achieve this, SADA is supplied with free television and radio advertisements, sends out weekly press releases to print, radio, and electronic media, as well as running specific campaigns to raise awareness of mental health problems. SADAG has produced over a dozen radio adverts, in various languages and four television adverts. Most months, SADAG’s media exposure amounts to approximately R15 million.
- SADAG is recognised for its work in rural communities in the identification of Depression and HIV and AIDS patients, and the training of Home Based Care Workers on how to recognise the symptoms as well as where to access treatment for their patients. Many have started their own Support Groups in their communities.
- SADAG works closely with other non-profit organisation to ensure the sustainability of the programmes and offers off-site support in terms of resources, information updates via SMS and social media.
- We are also involved in conducting research activities at both school and in communities. SADAG facilitates the monitoring and evaluation of its various activities and implementation techniques to ensure that progressive and innovative methodologies are utilized at all times.
- Speaking Books are one of the most effective tools that are used in low-literacy communities and in providing psychosocial education and knowledge. The Speaking Books come in various languages and offers valuable audio information covering over 50 topics.
Over the years, SADAG has worked closely with various Government Departments including National and Provincial Departments of Health; Social Development and Education. More recent projects with these various Departments include:
- National Department of Social Development Substance Abuse and the management of a 24-hour Substance Abuse Prevention Helpline.
- Department of Social Development School Talks on Substance Abuse in North West, Gauteng and Mpumalanga.
- Department of Social Development Support Group project where SADAG could initiate and mentor over 200 Support Group for Substance Abuse related issues.
- Gauteng Department of Education Teacher Training on Teen Suicide Prevention.
- National Department of Education continues to promote SADAG’s existing services during the Matric Results period to encourage students who are experiencing negative emotions to contact us for free telephone counselling support and referrals.
- Training the KwaZulu Natal Department of Education Psychosocial Support Team on Suicide Prevention and other psychosocial related issues.
- Regular communication and liaison with the Gauteng Department of Education offering support and assistance to Social Workers in assisting at-risk schools with various psychosocial related issues.