10 October 2021

Walking to break the stigma of mental illness


“The Happiness HELPS tools for achieving and maintaining mental wellness, gave life to an idea originally from a personal dream of mine. I was further inspired by the lyrics of Koos du Plessis’s song “Sprokie vir ‘n stadskind” (“….as jy aanhou stap tien duisend ure, sal jy dalk daar kom…”). This made me wonder how far one can walk in ten thousand hours. The longest tangible distance I could imagine, (as I traveled it from time to time), was from Pretoria to Cape Town…. and then this “crazy” idea of long-distance walking was born! Since then, wherever I travel in South Africa, I would imagine myself walking this route…… and so it eventually all came together in the Crazy for Walking initiative.” Hannetjie Buitendag – Team Captain


Let’s face it, there are many easier ways to travel 1500 km than merely on foot, walking. In fact if you tell anyone that you intend to walk so far, their responses will probably include something like: “Are you crazy?” Mr Francois Louw, Director of the National Hospital Network (NHN) group of hospitals says: “Many people think that it’s crazy to walk from Pretoria to Cape Town. After all, there are far easier ways of traveling between the two capitals. The primary objective of this initiative is to elevate awareness of mental illness. More importantly though, it aims to de-stigmatize the associations around the word “crazy”, often used through ignorance and fear of mental illness.” Live Kilometer Counter:


Research suggests many stereotypes and a general negative attitude towards mental illness. Even at a young age, children refer to people who suffer from a mental illness as “crazy” or “weird”. Sadly, these derogatory references, based on ignorance, remain throughout adulthood. Source: www.psychologytoday.com “People often call those suffering from a mental illness, “crazy”. With the Crazy for Walking initiative, we aim to show what it really means to be crazy…walking crazy distances from 3 – 10 October… now THAT’S what I call “crazy!”.


Depression affects so many South Africans, yet the stigma around this debilitating and challenging illness, often discourages those affected to seek treatment which will enable them to live a productive life.  According to the WHO (World Health Organization) Depression is a common illness worldwide, with an estimated 350 million people affected. Depression is different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life. Particularly when long-lasting and with moderate or severe intensity, depression may become a serious health condition. It can cause the affected person to suffer greatly and function poorly at work, at school and in the family. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide. Over 800 000 people die due to suicide every year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds. Source: www.who.int Click here to download more information about depression Source:  www.who.int


Bloemcare – Private Psychiatric Hospital www.bloemcare.co.za Crescent Clinic – Private Psychiatric Hospital www.crescentclinic.com Denmar – Private Psychiatric Hospital www.denmar.co.za Life Path Health – Private Psychiatric Hospitals www.lifepathgroup.co.za M-Care Optima – Private Psychiatric hospital http://www.optimabloem.co.za/ Nurture Health – Private Mental Wellness Hospitals www.nurturehealth.net Parkmed Neuro Clinic – Private Psychiatric Clinic http://www.parkmed.co.za/ Vista Clinic – Private Psychiatric Hospital www.vistaclinic.co.za

Other organizations: SADAG (South African Depression and Anxiety Group) www.sadag.org Life Line – Counselling www.lifelinepta.org.za