Partnering with civil society to engage journalists at Mental Health Summit in South Africa

Photo Credit: Charl Linde

The take-home message presented to delegates by CPMH Director, Prof Crick Lund, at the recent Mental Health Summit hosted by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) in partnership with Discovery Health was that it makes economic sense for governments to invest in mental health care. Highlighting the burden of disease in South Africa, neuropsychiatric disorders are ranked 3rd after HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases; there are also strong links between mental health problems and poverty.

Themed ‘Making Mental Health Matter’ the summit was aimed at the media to inform, update and help journalists to report on mental health issues. Prof Lund also emphasised the importance of journalists accurately reporting mental health research, citing a recent example of a newspaper headline exaggerating the number of South Africans living with mental illness.

The international guest speaker was Stefan Hofmann, from Boston University; he was joined other professionals in the field, as well as mental health service users who spoke of their personal experiences in seeking treatments and how they overcame their personal challenges. General topics of discussion included mental health issues, such as depression, social phobia, substance abuse, trauma and suicide and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Mental illness and the stigma surrounding it, is a critical issue in South Africa, with one in three people suffering from a mental illness in their lifetime. According to the World Health Organisation, by 2020 mental illness will be the main burden of disease worldwide.

Click here to view the Full Presentation.

Maggie Marx