I recently became a member of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), which is Africa’s largest mental health advocacy and support organisation. This week I will be speaking at SADAG’s Making Mental Health Matter Media Summit in Johannesburg and Cape Town, sponsored by Discovery Health.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and by 2020 mental illness will be the main burden of disease globally. In South Africa, 1 in 3 people suffer from a mental illness in their lifetime, making mental health and the stigma associated with it critical issues.
The summit is a workshop for members of the press and media who are interested in mental health journalism. Sensitive, responsible and accurate reporting on mental health issues is key to breaking the social stigma surrounding it. Professor Stefan Hofmann from Boston University’s Clinical Programme in USA will discuss social phobia and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) as an effective treatment for anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and mood disorders.
Several other medical professionals will also be speaking at the conference, as well as patients who will be sharing their first-hand accounts of mental illness. SADAG have invited me to share my own story and experience of depression.