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Tshwane - As the world commemorated International Mental Health Day on Wednesday, South Africa's ruling African National Congress conceded that rising economic challenges have put considerable strain on the population.

"Enormous economic challenges have grown, with greater pressures to get gainful employment in a rapidly shrinking labour market, limited income generation opportunities, - the young and the old feel the pressures, strains, and stresses of post-modern society," said ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe.

"As such the ANC recognises the burdens of mental strain our people feel today.  We also acknowledge that occurrences like the Life Esidemeni should never occur again. As South Africans, we have always been able to come together to overcome local, national and global challenges."

With increased suicide rates and depression within the South African population, the ANC appealed to communities to stand together in times of difficulty.

"Today as we confront the growing rates of suicide and occurrences of depression and nervous breakdowns, as much as our government must play its role, the ANC also calls on communities to express community solidarity with each other," said Mabe.

"We must activate a community value system that promotes humanity and Ubuntu."

Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said while the global needs for mental health care are gradually becoming more visible, such needs remain inadequately addressed in Africa, especially among youth. 

The international humanitarian medical non-governmental organisation said Africa has the youngest population in the world and the highest level of youth displacement, often linked to man-made crises. It is feared that lack of services, data and awareness around mental health issues will inevitably further exasperate the situation among African youth.

MSF Mental Health Advisor Cristina Carreño Glaria said in times of humanitarian crises, the mental health of young people should be a major concern.

"Mental health and psychosocial care for children and adolescents should be a major concern in humanitarian crises. We need to help the children and adolescents cope with difficult and painful situations. Besides, we need to identify the ones who are more at risk of or have already developed a mental disorder and provide them with the proper mental health care,” she said.

African News Agency (ANA)