Walking for Better Mental Health
Hosted by the KwaZulu-Natal Mental Health Advocacy Group in partnership with civil society organisations such as the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), the annual Mental Health Walk was held recently on Durban’s North Beach and attracted hundreds of participants including UKZN staff and students.
The event, which was initiated in 2016, is the brainchild of UKZN psychiatrist, Professor Suvira Ramlall and clinical psychologist, Mr Suntosh Pillay.
Said Ramlall: ‘The recent COVID-19 pandemic was more of a mental health pandemic than a viral one: not everybody was infected by the virus but everybody was affected mentally, socially, emotionally, financially and spiritually. KZN citizens had to cope with this mental burden in addition to the devastating impact of the floods and civil unrest. This year’s Walk was therefore especially important to create awareness of the importance of mental health for our overall health and wellbeing. The Walk and Fair are deliberately designed to promote awareness and share knowledge about simple practices that are not resource dependent that each individual can adopt to invest in their wellbeing.’
‘Attendees had opportunities to learn Zumba, simple physical exercises, yoga and meditation at the event which attracted over 700 attendees from all walks of life; private, public and NGO sectors; and age groups from six months to 77 years! The event also sends out a strong message that citizens should not wait for or rely on government initiatives to promote mental health - “this has not been forthcoming despite the need identified globally during the COVID-19 pandemic”. Communities must unite and work together to promote mentally healthy lifestyles and seek help early for symptoms and signs of mental distress.#KZN’sBestWalk. #NoHealthWithoutMentalHealth,’ said Ramlall.
Words: MaryAnn Francis