South Africa: Covid-19 Takes Its Toll On the Mental Health of Young People


Coping with the pandemic hasn't been easy. For young people, disruptions to schooling, social interaction and the general pace of life have left many struggling to cope with the stress of the 'new normal' and, according to experts, mental illness is on the rise.

Because of Covid-19, mental health has once again shifted into the spotlight. Research shows that before the pandemic South Africa was already dealing with a high burden of mental health conditions, with roughly a third of the population having experienced a mental health disorder in their lifetime. Depressive disorders are ranked as the fifth-largest cause of disability, with anxiety disorders ranked ninth.

With the onset of the pandemic, the numbers went up. The second wave of results of the National Income Dynamics Study - Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM), found that the number of people in SA suffering from depressive symptoms had doubled between 2017 and June 2020, from 12% to 24% of the population.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) said their call volumes had more than doubled since lockdown began.

"Before Covid, we were getting about 600 calls per day," said Cassey Chambers, operations director at Sadag. "We are now getting between...

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