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Calls for government to invest more in mental health amid worrying trends

Since the start of this year, distressed calls to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group have increased by 63% compared to last year.

Picture: Pixabay.com

CAPE TOWN - There are growing calls for government to invest more money in mental health.

With mental health being a big focus around the world this month, the treatment gap for those who are able to afford care versus those who cannot is in the spotlight.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also worsened an already significant problem.

Since the start of this year, distressed calls to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) have increased by 63% compared to last year.

More people are seeking help for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, suicidal thoughts and other ills.

On a global scale, the United Nations estimates that close to one billion people struggle with a mental disorder - while one person dies from suicide every 40 seconds.

And as Sadag's Cassey Chambers explained, treatment for the destitute remained an issue.

"Less than five percent of the national health budget goes to mental health spend in South Africa and with the treatment gap of 1 in ten South Africans with access to mental health care, we need to do better to make sure that there is mental health assistance for all."

Chambers added the only way to bridge the gap would be to pump more funding into mental healthcare at community level.

"The majority of the health budget or the mental health budget is spent on in-patient care when we're needing to strengthen our community mental health services."

The NPO is in talks with government to help remedy the situation.

Help is available. If you are feeling suicidal talk to someone about it, stay connected to others and reach out for help. In a suicidal crisis you should contact your doctor or consult a mental health professional. Life Line and the South African Depression and Anxiety Group also offer support.

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