South African youth under threat
The youth of today is the future. But with mental illness on the increase amongst young people – not only in South Africa, but globally – that very future is under threat.
Suicide is increasingly being reported amongst younger people (World Health Organisation, 2002) owing to:
- Loss of social cohesion
- Breakdown of traditional family structure
- Growing economic instability
- Rising prevalence of depressive disorders
- School-related pressures
According to SADAG (South African Depression and Anxiety Group):
- There are 23 completed suicides every day
- There are 230 attempted suicides every day
- 9.5% of all teen deaths are attributed to suicide
- The youngest suicide victim was 7 years old
As a nation, it is our collective responsibility to ensure that the young people of this country are equipped to deal with the pressures of daily living.
During the month of July, which is nationally recognised as Psychiatric Disability Awareness Month, the South African Federation for Mental Health will focus on the importance of mental health – specifically in our youth.
Learners in high school across the country will receive trendy, user-friendly educational cards related to mental health and illness. They need to be aware of mental health issues, know of support options available, and recognise that having a mental illness can be managed through effective health care and support.
Discrimination and the stigma attached to mental health ia an on-going challenge. Parents will also be encouraged to talk openly to their children and spouses about mental health and well-being. It is vital that we understand that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. There is always hope. The earlier it is diagnosed and treated, the better one's chances of recovering and living a full and normal life.
We need your help to continue working towards a healthier nation. Please click here to make a contribution online.
The American Psychiatric Association lists over 400 disorders that can be referred to as psychiatric illnesses. A list of the more common of these appears alongside.
With such a diverse number of disorders, treatment is as varied as the symptoms. Sometimes the cause can be traced to chemical imbalances within the brain. Once the balance is restored – and this could mean taking medication every day – the patient may go on to lead a normal life.