caption: It’s important to be aware of how this affects every stage of life. pic: pexels.com

Each year, thousands of South Africans face the reality of living with a mental health condition, it’s important to be aware of how this affects every stage of life.

Occupational therapist, Danilo Harkers, said change is an inevitable, necessary and often positive part of life. “Sometimes however, major changes or life-stage transitions, such as starting school, going to university, starting a new job, moving to a new house, or retiring from work,  can be overwhelming and stressful.”

Harkers said these types of changes may also be accompanied by mental disorders that are associated with certain life-stages.

“Life-stage disorders typically affect individuals at certain stages of their life cycle. These disorders are usually diagnosed during certain life stages, such as early childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age,” said Harkers who is based at Akeso Arcadia Clinic in Pretoria.

Here’s a glance at some of the global stats around these:

  • ADHD affects 8% to10% of school-aged children.
  • Depression occurs at a rate of about 2% during childhood and from 4% to 7% during adolescence, affecting up to about 20% of adolescents by the time they reach adulthood.
  • In teens more frequently than in younger children, addictions, bipolar disorder, and less often early onset schizophrenia may manifest.
  • Autism spectrum disorder, characterised by impaired development in communication, social interaction, and behaviour, afflicts one out of every 88 children, a 78% increase in the past 10 years.
  • Globally, the population is ageing rapidly. Between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population over 60 years will nearly double, from 12% to 22%.
  • Mental and neurological disorders among older adults account for 6.6% of the total disability (DALYs) for this age group.
  • Approximately 15% of adults aged 60 and over suffer from a mental disorder.

To improve mental health, Harkers advised a holistic approach; including the physical, spiritual, emotional and social health aspects of your life.

“Start by getting regular exercise and eating a balanced diet,” he advises. “A good work/school-life balance is important. Socialising with peers can also help to maintain or improve mental wellness. Reach out and ask for professional help as soon as you notice changes in your behaviour or mood.”