Depression, which is a condition most people laugh off and is not taken seriously, was put in the spotlight last Saturday when learners from different local schools assembled at the Nokuphila Clinic in Dobsonville Ext 2 to attend a workshop jointly organised by Isizwe Esinothile and the Dobsonville Outreach Organisation.
The event took place a week after South African music sensation HHP, committed suicide as a result of the condition.
Grade 12 pupils from Sebetsa and Rietvllei High School attended the event. One of the event organisers, Mbali Mchuni said they hosted the health awareness campaign at a time when most young people are sitting for their final examinations.
Mchunu said, “We realised that the youth ended up committing suicide because they are depressed.
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“Other kids commit suicide because of peer pressure or they because they fall short of their desired achievements during the examinations.”
Nomfundo Phakathi, who organised the workshop with Mchunu tried to commit suicide twice but was unsuccessful in her attempts to take her own life.
She overdosed on pills and remembers waking up in hospital on two occasions. Phakathi said,”I tried committing suicide in 2010 and 2017.
“People around me didn’t understand what was happening and most suicide survivors are ostracised by those who do not understand that depression is real.
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“Because of these experiences, I wanted to be part of this initiative and raises awareness about mental illness,” she said.
She said most people with mental illnesses seek a way out by committing suicide. Phakathi is currently a qualified teacher, Thuli Madonsela Foundation Ambassador and a founder of Dobsonville Outreach.
Psychologist Jeremy Bayer said people suffering from mental health issues should seek urgent help immediately.
He said the symptoms to look for in a person suffering from mental illnesses includes mood swings, lapses of concentration, loss of energy and long and short-term memory loss.
“People who are suffering from drug abuse should consult the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA),” said Bayer.
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The South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) gender convener, Hlengiwe Mkhonazi said they were working with a number of stakeholders including the Department of Health, Social Welfare Department, South African Police Service (SAPS) and churches in their attempts to fight depression among pupils.
“We have realised that most of our young people are infected or affected with HIV/AIDS. Due to inexperience, such pupils are stressed because they are not well equipped to handle the situation.
“We refer learners experiencing depression to social workers and psychologists for help through SADTU’s gender convenor desk,” said Mkhonazi.
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