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Mental Health Awareness

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By Lee-Yandra Paulsen

Although it might be difficult at first, it is very important that people start having open conversations about mental health.

This is according to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG)’s Vanishaa Gordhan, who was a guest on VOC Breakfast on Tuesday morning. She was speaking in commemoration of World Mental Health Day.

According to Gordhan, there are many factors that could impact a person’s mental health, be it a trauma, life experience, or a physical situation that impacted the person.

“Changing the narrative is where we start. If we don’t start somewhere we won’t be anywhere,” said Gordhan.

She encouraged people to start doing mental health check-ins, speaking kindly, and educating others about mental health. This will help destigmatize mental health.

“Knowledge is power and there is so much information about mental health and the symptoms of anxiety and depression,” she added.

Gordhan stated that men are four times more likely to die by suicide than women.

Depression is not the only factor that pushes men to suicide. It is also the fact that men don’t speak up about their mental health, unlike women who would speak to the people in their circle of friends or family about their problems.

Gordhan said that many men follow an old-fashioned ideal where phrases such as ‘I must be strong’ and ‘I shouldn’t show any emotion’ are deeply entrenched in their thinking. She emphasized the importance of speaking to young boys and reassuring them that ‘it’s okay to be sad’ or ‘to feel emotional’.

“This year the theme is ‘being kind to your mind’, and this is something we want to continue. Let’s be kind to our mind as well as another’s,” said Gordhan.

She said that people who seek out help for their mental health should be treated the same as someone who went to the doctor for any other illness. Going to a psychologist is a way to increase your quality of life and treat your mental health.

When you raise awareness or share experiences about people who have struggled with depression or anxiety you can create better understanding.

Photo: Pexels

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