Walk is to destigmatise mental health illness

Mari Liebel, Ralize Luis, and Marianda Stander. Photo: Thato Mahlangu.

The stigmatisation of people living with mental illness must end, urged Tshwane Transport and Social Development MMC Ntsiki Mokhotho.

Mokhotho was speaking at the Crazy for Walking send-off event that took place at Freedom Park on Friday. The event was organised by Vista Clinic, a Centurion-based private psychiatric hospital.

The clinic provides mental health services to persons over the age of 16.

The most frequent conditions treated, are mood and anxiety disorders such as depression, bipolar disorders and post-traumatic stress disorders.

The Crazy for Walking was established by Hannetjie Buitendag, who challenged herself and the clinic’s staff to walk for the mentally ill.

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Speaking at the event, Mokhotho said people living with mental illness should not be ill-treated, instead, they should form part of communities.

“We need to stop this stigmatisation which leads to discrimination and the isolation of people living with disabilities.

Watch video:

The project’s CEO and National Hospital Network’s director Francois Louw said the treatment was available to treat mental illnesses.

“There is treatment available. It is a taboo talking about it as well as the stigma.”

He said it was small and medium business owners who should work together to find help for those who are living with mental illnesses.

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Louw said about one in every three South Africans will suffer from a mental health episode at some stage in their lives and we want to increase sensitivity towards and create awareness of mental illness.

“Part of the walk is to destigmatise the associations around the word ‘crazy’ which is often used through ignorance and fear of mental illness and thus we are supporting this ‘crazy’ initiative.”

Watch the video here:

A mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. Such conditions may affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function properly on a daily basis.

Each person will have different experiences, even people with the same diagnosis according to SA Federation for Mental Health (SAFMH).

“There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness. Some of the more common disorders are depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders.”

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Symptoms may include changes in mood, personality, personal habits and social withdrawal.

“Some of the symptoms cannot be seen outwardly,” warned the MMC.

“We need to always be on the look out and talk to our friends who might be needing our help,” she said.

Steelwings Bikers from Zambezi supported the initiative.

Watch the video here:

On 10 October, World Mental Health Day, Crazy for Walking campaigners aim to bring attention to mental illness in a fun and “crazy” manner.

“We aim to encourage all South Africans to participate in Crazy Socks Day. On the day, people are encouraged to wear their ‘crazy’ socks and to share pictures of their socks and them wearing these across our social media platforms on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram,” said Buitendag.

Bikers and the walking group arriving in style. Photo: Thato Mahlangu.

Bikers and the walking group arriving in style. Photo: Thato Mahlangu.

Bikers and the walking group arriving in style. Photo: Thato Mahlangu.

Lodie and Tulana van Staden from SteelWings Bikers supported the initiative. Photo: Thato Mahlangu.

At the back: Frik Horn, Peter Banks and Juan Royfee.
In front: Daphne Banks, Tulana and Lodie van Staden. Photo: Thato Mahlangu.

Christo Brits, Annelize Brits, Rene Bezeindhout, Gerhard Classen and Freedom Park’s spokesperson Naomi Madima. Photo: Thato Mahlangu.

Marlisa Doms, Suzane Wille and Jolandi Posthemus. Photo: Thato Mahlangu.

The group of Crazy for Walking supporters who will be walking to Cape Town to raise awareness. Photo: Thato Mahlangu.

A group of Vista Clinic staff members posed happily for a photo: Photo: Thato Mahlangu.

At the back: Frik Horn, Peter Banks and Juan Royfee, Lodie van Staden, Daphne Banks, Tulana van Staden with their bikes. Photo: Thato Mahlangu.

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  AUTHOR
Thato Mahlangu
Journalist

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