ADDRESS BY COUNCILLOR NONTSIKELELO MOKHOTHO, MMC FOR COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT SERVICES AT THE CRAZY FOR WALKING SEND-OFF
Copy of speech below, prepared by Mr Marius Redelinghuys MMC Office, City of Tshwane
1 SEPTEMBER 2017 Programme Director, the Project CEO and NHN Director Mr Louw;
Ms Makoela from Freedom Park, our hosts today;
Ms Botha, the Bloemcare Hospital Manager;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
And particularly the group of walkers walking the “crazy” distance of 1500km from Pretoria to Cape Town!
This event highlights a very serious issue in a fun and tongue-in-cheek way.
Mental health is a serious issue.
One in three South Africans will suffer a mental health episode in their lifetime, with some of the more common disorders being depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders.
Yet, we rarely talk about these honestly and openly, and as many as 75% of all people affected do not seek or receive help.
People suffering with mental illness do not show visible symptoms and there is in most cases no outward appearance of being ill.
And so, we rarely notice it, and we don’t talk about it.
Many living with depression, the most common mental illness, pay the ultimate price and take their own lives.
This does not need to be the case.
There are effective treatments for depression and other mental illnesses, but there are also barriers to effective treatment, and the most tragic barrier is the social stigma associated with mental disorders.
I want to share the words of Mr Mbuyiselo Botha, a Commissioner of the Commission for Gender Equality. He shared these in a different context, but they are just as applicable.
Mr Botha spoke about the need to defeat the three S’s – the Triple S – plaguing our society on sensitive issues: we need to defeat Silence, Stigma, and Shame.
We can combat these three: silence, stigma and shame, by:
Educating ourselves and others about mental health problems and knowing the facts;
Being aware of our attitudes and behaviour;
Choosing our words carefully, with empathy and sensitivity; and by
Being supportive and inclusive when we deal with mental health issues.
This “crazy” walk of 1 500km does exactly that!
It is a laudable initiative contributing significantly to defeating the silence, stigma and shame associated with mental health problems.
On behalf of the City of Tshwane, I thank the organisers for their pro-active contribution to raising awareness of mental health issues, and for choosing the City of Tshwane as the starting point for this event.
I also wish the group of walkers all the best as they undertake this ‘crazy’ walk to Cape Town!