Challenges in South Africa
Adolescents in South Africa are even more vulnerable to mental health problems. Many live in poor and difficult environments, with no access to even basic health services. Schools barely run on the bare essentials, never mind having a counsellor or any support system available.
Public schools are overcrowded, which means many kids find it difficult to cope with the work because they are not receiving individual attention. Common mental health problems such as anxiety and depression are high. Shockingly, suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst the youth around the globe.
There is, therefore, a need amongst the young people of South Africa and the world, to bring awareness to the mental health problem. To improve the situation, education and training should be implemented to help those in more vulnerable positions. Depression, as well as anxiety treatment, should readily be available to those in need.
But even though there have been requests made to the government to address the problem, nothing has been done. It seems the exact opposite is happening, with the education budget suffering from cutbacks. This, in turn, reduces the resources available and the cycle continues.
Many South African’s also deal with the stigma attached to a mental health disorder. In some cultures, depression or other mental problems are not seen as an illness but as a weakness in character. Many people including youths are discriminated against for admitting they have a problem. Others who are also struggling will then suffer in silence.
Many believe that the problem should be addressed at a community level, get the parents, traditional leaders, local teachers and counsellors involved. Promoting awareness could be the first step in encouraging those with a mental health problem to come forward and seek help.