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Pandemic stress related to money issues take toll on South Africans’ mental health

Survey shows 21% of South Africans went on prescription medication to help with stress and anxiety over money issues. File picture African News Agency (ANA)

Survey shows 21% of South Africans went on prescription medication to help with stress and anxiety over money issues. File picture African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 27, 2021

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Cape Town - A new survey has found that during the Covid-19 pandemic, 21% of South Africans went on prescription medication to help with stress and anxiety over money issues.

Some of the key findings from the survey showed that 57% of participants cited financial stress as having a huge effect on mental wellbeing.

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This was followed by 44% that worried about their own and their loved ones’ health and 38% worried about the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic.

The survey, conducted among 1200 South Africans on behalf of financial services group Sanlam, found that financial stress hit young people the hardest. Those aged 18 to 24 were most mentally impacted by financial stress, and younger women were the hardest hit of all.

It also found that childcare and family stresses were felt most by women aged between 25 and 39.

Sanlam Savings Manager Farzana Botha said: “We’ve all gone through this major life event together, and it’s changed many of us in profound ways.

“We can’t underestimate the toll it’s taken on our mental health. We’re likely to keep seeing the impact of this for years to come. It really brought home the impact money has had as a stressor on mental wellbeing.”

Meanwhile, as the Western Cape emerges from the third wave, provincial health services are preparing to manage the challenge of Covid-19 related mental health disorders after recording an increase in people presenting at emergency centres with psychiatric issues.

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Head of health Dr Keith Cloete said the province is tracking the situation in 17 emergency centres and has seen people presenting with acute psychosis, as well as mental and behavioural disorders, mainly related to substance abuse.

“Psychotic patients are increasing. All hospitals have shown an increase in mental health admissions over the last six months. That is a big increase.

“We also know from the NIDS-CRAM study that mental disorders have been exacerbated during Covid-19,” said Dr Cloete.

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