In support of the South African government and the World on the heed to create awareness on the importance of mental health and mental illnesses, SiiSonke Women Round Tables held a beautiful and informative mental health awareness session on 24 October 2020 at a lovely venue in East London.
The purpose of this event was to share information and have a conversation around the importance of understanding mental health and understanding the various mental illnesses that exist. Moreover, the most important purpose was to come together and fight the stigma and discrimination that people living with mental illnesses face in society.
The truth of the matter is that in most black communities people that suffer or are living with mental illnesses are misunderstood and deemed as being possessed, mad or even guilty of heinous crimes which have come to haunt them. If you think about it, such attitude and misunderstanding and lack of information really affects those that are mentally ill and it negatively affects and stops the healing and understanding process for both the person living with the mental illness and the family and friends that are supposed to support this person.
At the session, we were grateful to have beautiful speakers who shared their respective personal stories and really touched the audience with their experiences and positive attitude that came out of those hurtful and sad experiences that they went through.
In essence, as a summation of all the speeches delivered by the speakers, one realized that in order to deal with mental illness and to fight all barriers and situations which can lead to depression, one has to stay mentally healthy; one has to know and understand themselves; one needs to believe that there is help available in the form of support systems and information that is available in abundance. Most importantly, one needs to understand that in order to be able to get help and support, you have to accept the situation that you find yourself in. In accepting your situation, you are then able to be receptive to support, information and healing.
In Closing, The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) has a list of tips that serve as self-help for depression and I thought that it would be lovely to share them with you, the reader. They are the following:
- trying to deal with pain on your own can be very heavy and can make it worse,therefore it is advised that you share your feelings with others rather than keeping them to yourself;
- taking part in some activities previously enjoyed with friends and family can make you feel better;
- exercising, however small can make a difference and make you feel better as depression makes you feel tired and lack motivation;
- reading books to held learn and understand the nature of the condition and its possible causes will help remove much of the fear and guilt and misconception which many people have;
- avoiding habits like smoking, drinking and taking drugs;
- joining a support group in order to communicate with people that are going through the same illness;
- seeking treatment and knowing that it is a sign of strength and the first step towards feeling better.