‘South Africa’s sick state of mental health is failing far too many, and we have had enough.’ Mental health matters! About 23 South Africans die by suicide each day, and we need to acknowledge those who struggle each day with these “invisible” disabilities.
The most recent studies indicate that well over 17-million South Africans are dealing with anxiety disorders, with 30 percent of South Africans reportedly dealing with chronic psychiatric disorders.
South Africa’s sick state of mental health is failing far too many, and we have had enough. From the Life Esidimeni incident, it is clear that we live in a country that prioritises economic gains over social justice, which is proving to have fatal outcomes for those suffering from mental health issues.
The mental health crisis in South Africa is undeniable — it has been so greatly written about, year in and year out — so why does it feel like nothing is being done about it?
How much more do we need to suffer, and how many more have to perish, before we realise that mental health matters?
As a mental health sufferer in South Africa, I cannot begin to explain what life is like. The struggle to make it out of bed in the morning is combined with the constant shame that hovers over one’s head living in an ableist society.
One would have thought that after the tragedy that was the Life Esidimeni incident, maybe — just maybe — our struggle would be given the recognition and attention that it so dearly deserves. But it seems this is not the case.
Only 25 percent of people with mental illnesses in South Africa report a diagnosis and receive treatment, so what happens to the other 75 percent? How much more do we need to suffer, and how many more have to perish, before we realise that mental health matters?
This is my plea for our basic and fundamental human right: the right to adequate mental healthcare delivery in South Africa.
Mental health is just as important as physical health.