Join the global stage on World Mental Health Day which is observed on 10 October annually, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world.
Suntosh Pillay, a clinical psychologist, says Covid-19 safety regulations prompted a virtual event. “We had an amazing turnout of over 950 people last year, so we urge citizens to keep the momentum online and post a pic or video with our hashtags. This can help destigmatize mental illness and start life-saving conversations,” says Pillay, who launched the Mental Health walk event in 2016 with his colleague, Suvira Ramlall.
Every year 800 000 people die by suicide globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In South Africa, there are 23 recorded suicides a day. SADAG’s free suicide helpline received 55 000 calls for help since January 2020. “This is a public health emergency, and yet, mental health care services are grossly underfunded in the private and public health systems,” said Pillay. “Along with crime, xenophobia and violence plaguing our country, the need for psychosocial support is enormous”.
Since 2016, Durban’s north beach amphitheatre has been an annual meeting point to campaign for improved psychosocial services in the province. The walk is spearheaded by a group of activists called the KZN Mental Health Advocacy Group, in collaboration with the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), a leading non-profit organization.
Bianca Barnard, a volunteer at SADAG KZN, says that this year has been really stressful. “Throughout lockdown, I have found that keeping active has helped me manage this stress effectively. Everything from walking to yoga can help to put one’s mind at ease,” says Barnard.
“Walking is nature’s gift – a simple, effective, inexpensive way to stay healthy,” says Suvria Ramlall, a psychiatrist at King Dinuzulu Hospital in Sydenham. “Walk or move your body joyfully, mindfully and regularly, it’s the best investment you can make to keep your brain healthy and your heart happy.”
How to participate in World Mental Health Day 2020
To participate simply complete 1km of walking anywhere you want to, post a picture or video onto social media while wearing green and your best hat, with hashtags #StepUpKZN #SpeakYourMind and #MentalHealth. The event promotes holistic wellness and there will also be online yoga, Zumba, and mindfulness classes throughout October. For enquiries SMS 0782787047 or email MHadvocacygroup@gmail.com.
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