Suffering in silence is not uncommon for people who are affected by mental-health issues and while it may seem like the obvious solution, asking for help presents its own set of challenges and stigmatisations.
More often than not, the greatest hurdle in asking for help is allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough to speak up about your struggles with mental health to those that love you the most. Thabile Mpe took it a step further, choosing to document her quest for help with complete strangers on the Internet in an effort to help others feel more comfortable and accepting of their own mental-health issues in order to seek help. This is how asking for help changed her life:
There’s a lot of guilt surrounding mental illness
‘I was afraid to ask for help because I didn’t want my mom to feel bad, or like she had done something wrong. It was extremely challenging and I suffered through the physical manifestation of my anxiety and depression until it became too much for me and started making me ill. That, coupled with my struggle with academics, eventually led to having an open conversation with my mom. I told her exactly how not okay I was and she helped me make the decision to call Independent Counselling and Advisory Services (ICAS).’
Getting help completely turned my life around
‘The difference in my quality of life is insane. I am receiving medicinal treatment to help manage my bipolar syndrome and my stay at Vista Clinic equipped me with the coping skills I need to make it through difficult days. Asking for help has allowed me the emotional reset I needed.
‘My self-confidence is at an all-time high and it’s showing in my academics and the moves I’m making with Mental Wealth™. My psychiatrist has also noticed the positive changes that have come out of the process of starting Mental Wealth and speaking about my struggles publicly. This time last year, this kind of thing wasn’t even something I’d dream of, because dreaming implied hope. The effect getting help has had on my life is why I need for us to be doing things like this campaign. I want other people to feel this. They deserve to feel this.’
There is comfort in knowing that you are not alone in your struggle
‘You get to truly understand the depth of the stigma around mental illness when people call you “brave” for being so candid about not being okay. The response to my tweets through @mentalwealthZA have been mostly positive, which is saying a lot because social media is somewhat toxic by nature. Sometimes I get dragged, but that’s to be expected. Human beings have weird responses to the unknown.
‘It feels gross to toot this horn but people are really grateful for the conversations that Mental Wealth allows for online. Every fifth direct message on the MentalWealthZA Twitter account is a “Thank you”. There is so much comfort to be found in simply knowing that you are not alone in your struggle. That kind of response makes the odd douche calling me crazy completely negligible.’
How to get help
Getting help can range from having someone to talk to, to actually seeing a professional, being admitted to a facility or taking medication. No matter what kind of help you seek or need, it’s important to recognise that it’s okay to do you.
Helplines are available for those who need immediate intervention or someone to talk to. The people on the other end are trained counsellors and are usually available to assist 24 hours a day.
Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety Helpline
0800 708 090
0800 554 433
Akeso Psychiatric Response Unit (24-hour)
0861 435 787
Department of Social Development Substance Abuse Helpline (24-hour)
0800 121 314
SADAG Mental Health Line
011 234 4837
SADAG Suicide Crisis Line
0800 567 567
Public facilities are available for people who can’t afford private psychiatric care (which is a luxury). All you’ll need is a referral letter. View a list of public families per region here.
Support groups are available through various organisations such as SADAG (South African Depression and Anxiety Group).
Private care is an option which is facilitated through various institutions and includes treatment by a psychologist or psychiatrist.
ICAS is a great resource if you or a friend or family member are employed by a company that is registered with them. This registration affords you free therapy sessions, which are sourced for you depending on where you are based.
Universities also have psychiatric measures in place. View the contact details per university here