South Africa: Is Mental Health the Next Pandemic?

Diepsloot in South Africa (file photo).
analysis

The Covid-19 pandemic, now in its 3rd wave, continues to have an exponentially negative effect on people's mental health. Globally, people are afraid of falling ill and infecting those around them. Some have lost family members and friends, they continue to be physically distanced and isolated from loved ones and support groups. In many cases, people have lost jobs and businesses have closed. All these factors create the perfect storm of stress, depression and anxiety.

In the weeks following the announcement of the national lockdown in March 2020, Lifeline South Africa recorded over 4 000 calls a day -- the number they usually get in a week. Calls to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) more than doubled, while calls to Childline and gender-based violence centres also increased.

It's no wonder experts are calling it a 'mental health' pandemic and predict that depression as well as post-traumatic stress disorder, which has been on an upward slope, will increase.

Even before Covid-19, it was estimated that one in three people would be affected by mental illness in their lifetime. Statistics indicate over 17 million South Africans are dealing with anxiety disorders of various forms. And although great strides have...

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