KZN Mental Health Advocacy Group hosts a Healthy Walk
The KwaZulu-Natal Mental Health Advocacy group recently hosted a successful second annual mental health walk.
The aim of the event, held on 15 October, was to destigmatise mental illness by creating a platform where all stakeholders can meet in a relaxed environment and share information. During the event government departments, private organisations and non-profit organisations provided advice on mental illness and substance abuse and also conducted free health screening for participants on the day.
The second aim of the event was to get people physically active - this is commended for mental and physical health.
The walk was held in commemoration of World Mental Health Day on 10 October, and Mental health awareness month. It coincided with the Life Esidimeni hearings to probe the deaths of more than 140 mentally ill patients.
More than 600 people attended the event and all completed the 5km walk from the Durban amphitheatre to Ushaka Marine World. Walk participants included mental health professionals, psychiatric patients and their family members, service providers, and members of the public.
‘Participants not only had a fun day at the seaside but this was one of our successful advocacy and education initiatives around mental health and substance abuse,’ expressed Dr Suvira Ramlall who is a Clinical Psychologist in the Discipline of Psychiatry in the College of Health Sciences at UKZN.
After the 5km walk on the promenade, many participants then enjoyed a healthy aerobics workout, courtesy of the Provincial Department of Health’s mobile aerobics unit.
The KZN Mental Health Advocacy group is an initiative of Psychiatrist, Dr Suvira Ramlall, and Clinical Psychologist, Mr Suntosh Pillay, who are staff of the Provincial Department of Health as well as of the Discipline of Psychiatry, University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Upcoming Mental Health Initiatives
- Development of the info4africa mental health services directory and app. This app will allow users to link in via Wechat to find out details of their nearest mental health service provider. The site is expected to be functional by January 2018
- The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) will open its offices in Durban in 2018. SADAG is an NGO that provides a range of mental health services. They have offices in Gauteng and also run many national toll-free helplines. Next year they will be focusing on education of school children on mental health, depression, suicide etc. The KZN Mental Health Advocacy Group will continue its work under the SADAG banner. Details of their Durban address and contact number will be made available in due course.
Words: Lihle Sosibo