#WorldMentalHealthDay: Are we doing enough to assist young people?

Sadag says that from research, adolescents have been found to be the most at-risk age group of taking their own lives.

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JOHANNESBURG - According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag), 9% of all teen deaths are due to suicide. This begs the question: is enough being done to help young South Africans battling with mental health issues?

Wednesday, 10 October will be World Mental Health Day, an annual event to raise awareness about issues around mental health around the world.

This year's theme is 'Young people and mental health in a changing world'.

Speaking to Eyewitness News, Sadag's Cassey Chambers says that from research, adolescents have been found to be the most at-risk age group of taking their own lives. The usual onset of a mental illness is early adulthood (19 to 23-years-old).

She says that young children, some as young as six-years-old, can also be affected by mental health issues.

A combination of issues is usually the biggest contributors to mental health among young people, says Chambers.

"The main contributing factors include relationship problems (with a boyfriend/girlfriend, fighting with a best friend, etc.), family issues (divorce, separation, abuse, conflict, etc.), trauma (loss, grief, abuse, rape, etc.) and school problems (bullying, learning difficulties). But factors such as financial problems, stress, substance abuse and exam stress can also be factors."


Chambers says that Sadag is receiving more and more calls from young people who are in crisis and need help, as well as more requests to do school talks and debriefing sessions after a learner suicide.

"We have been hearing about more and more reports on student suicides, teens who have taken their own life. More definitely needs to be done to help teens in crisis.

"The Department of Health spends less than 1% of the entire health budget on mental health. There are not enough specialised hospitals or specialised psychiatric hospital beds for children and adolescents. Young people need more support services, teachers need training and support to deal with mental health at school, society needs to know the warning signs of depression and suicide to help teens cope. We all need to do better to help tackle this."

Chambers says that everyone needs to start addressing mental health among youth before we lose more young people to suicide and before more young people suffer with issues which will follow them into adulthood.