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Mental health practitioners open up about the toll of the Covid-19 pandemic in new doccie

The documentary was part of a global initiative called the Speak Your Mind (SYM) Campaign, which advocated for ending the silence around mental health. Picture: Supplied

The documentary was part of a global initiative called the Speak Your Mind (SYM) Campaign, which advocated for ending the silence around mental health. Picture: Supplied

Published Nov 15, 2021

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Cape Town - Mental health practitioners, health-care workers and users of these services have opened up on just how disruptive the Covid-19 pandemic has been in a raw and honest short documentary.

The SA Federation for Mental Health (SAFMH) worked with local filmmaker Lisa Henry to capture the voices of mental health advocates from community-based mental health organisations and mental health care users across the country for the documentary, “Speak Your Mind”.

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The documentary was part of a global initiative called the Speak Your Mind (SYM) Campaign, which advocated for ending the silence around mental health.

The SYM campaign aimed to raise awareness around important community issues pertaining to mental health, advocate for increased resources, and amplify the voices of mental health care users during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Shayni Geffen, the SAFMH project leader for advocacy and awareness, said: “Covid-19 was a difficult time for every aspect of service delivery, but mental health was hit particularly hard as there was a huge shift in how services had to be carried out.

“It was important for us to share these realities on the ground to increase awareness. That being said, the pandemic offered an opportunity for mental health organisations to shift, reinvent and reorganise the way in which they work to ensure access and utilisation of services among the community members. Examples of these innovations are shared in the documentary.”

SAFMH Advocacy and Awareness project leader Michelle Donnelly said the campaign aimed to put pressure on governments to invest in, educate, and empower people so citizens have the support and resources for looking after their mental health.

The documentary also serves as a useful advocacy resource for more resources for community-based mental health care, especially after Covid-19.

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SAFMH deputy director Leon de Beer said: “Looking back at the finished product, I am thrilled about the outcome. The video is the culmination of 18 months of intensive work.

“The themes that emerged are all of extreme importance, both for persons with lived experiences and organisations working with them on a daily basis in South Africa. I hope that everyone who views the video will find something useful or something that they can related to in it, because mental health affects us all.”

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