Durban – The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day celebrated globally today (October 10) is 'Mental health is a universal human right.'
In Durban at least 800 people braved wet conditions to commemorate the event by participating in the annual mental health beachfront walk on Sunday.
Clinical psychologist and co-founder of the walk, Suntosh Pillay, said it was the flagship community-driven mental health event in the province and continued to grow each year.
“Even if only ten people arrived, we would have continued.
“Our event is highly anticipated across the province. People came from as far as South Coast, Madadeni and Pietermaritzburg.
“Cancelling was not an option,” said Pillay.
Nwabisa Tsita who joined the walk said it was an important act of advocating for awareness and better mental health-care services for all.
Simone Gray, who started the Happy Lawyer’s Project to combat depression, anxiety, and burnout in the legal profession, agreed. “Having such a big gathering of people in spite of poor weather is an act of advocacy in itself. I feel very proud to be part of a community who are taking their mental health seriously. It’s amazing to see so many people here!”
For Rivendri Govender, an educational psychologist, the walk was a fun and interactive way to get people to engage with the topic of mental health, “which people shy away from”. “We are encouraging people to take a stand against the stigma,” said Govender.
Pierre Buckley, an LGBTQ+ activist who is from the Global Interfaith Network said: “Being present and supporting the walk adds our voice and presence to support the urgency to address mental wellness in society.”
Apart from the walk, the event included a wellness fair where 30 organisations interacted with the public. Those present included the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), Mondia Health, Medis Medical Software, the KZN Department of Health, and Joint Medical Holdings.
The oldest participant at the event was Sarah Seedat, 78, who received a copy of, Inpowerment from author Suvira Ramlall who is also the co-founder of the KwaZulu-Natal Mental Health Advocacy Group that organises the walk.
The Independent on Saturday