It's sometimes hard to find words that can effectively address the mental health crisis in SA. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency
Pretoria - Today marks World Mental Health Day and various organisations are sharing information and running campaigns to create awareness about depression.

Central nervous system and portfolio manager at Pharma Dynamics Abdurahman Kenny said the growing incidence of depression and anxiety worldwide implied there were other factors that made modern-day society more vulnerable to mental illness.

Kenny said research done by Harvard’s Medical School showed there were a list of things that many people would not think of that had been causing a lot of people to become depressed easily.

“Staying cooped up indoors is bad not only for our physical health, but for our mental health too. These days most of us spend the majority of our days inside, denying our bodies of much-needed vitamin D which may provide some protection against depression,” he said.

He said driving in traffic could also cause depression, with the average South African spending almost three hours a day on the road.

He suggested speaking to employers about working flexi-hours or from home, if the type of job allowed for that kind of arrangement, or to listen to one’s favourite music or to motivational or interesting podcasts to keep positive.

Social media had had a huge impact, particularly the amount of time spent on social media, he said.

“I understand there are times when people have to be on social media for work and to stay in touch with loved ones. However, it’s important to set boundaries, as too much time on networking sites can have damaging consequences.”

People wanted to project a perfect life on social media, which led to people putting pressure on themselves to meet social media standards.

He said sitting for too long could also cause anxiety, and women who didn’t exercise at all were 99% more at risk of depressive symptoms, compared with those who exercised regularly.

“It’s no wonder that depression rates are on the increase when one considers that almost 40% of SA adults (men and women) are inactive, based on the latest World Health Organisation statistics,” he said.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group, Health Professions Council of South Africa and the South African Federation for Mental Health are also commemorating the day through fun walks and campaigns that will be running throughout the month.

Pretoria News