'Help is at hand, don't despair'
WHILE growing up, TV actress Nomzamo Mbatha lost her grandmother and her father, people she loved dearly.
But at the time of their deaths, the 28-year-old media personality did not receive counselling because she was not exposed to it.
But if losing her father, Skuta Nxumalo, and grandmother, MaMjoli Nxumalo, was not tragic enough, Mbatha then lost her older sister, Matu Dlamini, and her cousin Carla Pereira, who committed suicide just as her acting career was starting to blossom with a lead role in Isibaya on DStv’s Mzansi Magic.
This week when the KwaMashu-born actress graduated with a BCom degree in accounting at the University of Cape Town, she wore a dress which had the toll-free number for the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag).
Her dress also had the faces of those closest to her. She said she too had suffered depression before seeking professional help.
That was why she had Johannesburg-based designer Vanessa Gounden make the dress for her.
The dress also bears the words resilience, courage and overcome, which were seen as a message to those suffering with mental illness that they could overcome with resilience and courage and through seeking professional help.
Mbatha said the trauma could have broken her, but instead had made her stronger. “After losing a family member we just move on as if nothing ever happened, but the truth is we suffer silently.
“At the universities there are many students who suffer from depression but don’t seek help because they don’t know where they can get help,” Mbatha said.
“There are avenues like Sadag, so let’s use them and not suffer in silence. I have suffered from depression as well, I had a sister who took her life. It’s time that we deal with depression and anxiety. I’m asking everyone who suffers to seek help,” she said.
Sadag director Cassey Chambers said they were surprised by the gesture and had received an increase in calls from people seeking help since Wednesday.
Mbatha said despite her busy schedule, which includes acting, presenting and being an ambassador for a German automotive company, she had made time to attend classes and to study while on flights and in hotels around the world.
Meanwhile, Mbatha also honoured the late ‘mother of the nation’, Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
“She passed away just before my graduation and everyone knows I was forever honouring that woman because of her contribution to the country.
“My grandmother named me Nomzamo after her,” she added.
“When I was born in 1990, she was literally holding the country on her shoulders. She was an iconic figure in South Africa,” said Mbatha.
She said she was shocked by the loss of Mama Winnie and revealed that she had made plans to spend time with Madikizela-Mandela’s granddaughter Zoleka over the past weekend, but it had not materialised.