Making mental health matter


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.

Making mental health matter media summit | SADAG

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.

Find out more about the Making Mental Health Matter Media Summit on SADAG’s website and follow their Twitter feed for updates on the days of the workshop.


What happens now?

A few weeks ago, Cara from the “What happens now?” project invited me to share my story with their community of suicide attempt survivors, and my post was published on Monday.

As a volunteer initiative, “What happens now?” aims to support survivors of suicide attempts and anyone with suicidal thoughts, by sharing first-hand accounts of life before and after a suicide attempt. Survivors can encourage each other by simply putting our struggles into words. We can show each other that no one is alone, that we understand the thoughts and feelings that seem to be so isolating.

You can read the post about my depression, suicide attempt and life as a survivor over at “What happens now?” And if you like it, share it – there might be someone in your circles who needs to know they’re not alone.