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YOU know that you have to eat right, exercise and get enough sleep to have a healthy body. But how much attention do you give to your mental wellbeing?

It’s a subject many people do not want to discuss because there is a lot of stigma about mental health issues such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (after incidents such as rape or a fire) and suicide.

Many of us are unwilling to reach out for help because we feel ashamed that we will be seen as ‘weak” or “crazy”. But mental health is just as important as physical health – if you had a broken leg you wouldn’t be ashamed to seek professional help – so don’t be ashamed to safeguard your own mental wellbeing.  

We also know that men are less likely to seek help and treatment, and this can often lead to alcohol and drug abuse, risk-taking behaviour and even suicide. People who have survived conflict, violence, abuse and members of vulnerable groups such as refugees and migrants, LGBTI and prisoners tend to have higher suicide rates.

Globally, 800 000 people die from suicide each year. It is the second leading cause of death among 15–29-year-olds and 78% of global suicides happen in low- and middle-income countries like South Africa.

So what can you do to ensure you stay healthy – both for yourself and your loved ones?

Apart from self-care such as eating properly, exercising and getting enough sleep, there is a range of resources available to help you. Some offer counselling over the phone, some have support groups and others have useful information online:

South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG)

0800 21 22 23 or 0800 12 13 14 (24Hrs) SMS to 31393

Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety Helpline

0800 70 80 90

Destiny Helpline for Youth & Students

0800 41 42 43

Department of Social Development Substance Abuse Line 24hr helpline

0800 12 13 14

SMS 32312

Suicide Crisis Line

0800 567 567