In the second Annual Mental State of the World Report 2021 by Sapien Labs, published in March 2022, South Africa is dubbed as one of the worst countries when it comes to mental health.
This distressing revelation comes as no surprise, considering the multitude of challenges faced by South Africans on a daily basis.
In addition to the lack of resources, there is a pervasive stigma attached to mental illness in South Africa. Those living with mental illnesses are often labelled as crazy, weak or simply misunderstood.
“The absence of appropriate terminology in African languages to describe psychological symptoms further complicates the understanding of mental illness in the South African context,” wrote Yolanda Sankobe, Social Connectedness Fellow 2019.
The study looked at six different key happiness factors over the past year - social support, income, health, freedom, generosity and the absence of corruption - to rank 95 countries in terms of their people's happiness.
The 2022 World Mental Health Report further highlighted that a staggering 970 million people worldwide were living with mental disorders in 2019, with 14% of them being adolescents.
Shockingly, suicide accounts for more than one in 100 deaths globally, with 58% of suicides occurring before the age of 50.
It is the fourth leading cause of death among those between 15 to 29. A further estimate suggests that 82% of people with mental disorders live in low- and middle-income countries, including South Africa.
Since the average person spends approximately 90,000 hours at work in their lifetime, it is concerning that conservative estimates stipulate that up to a quarter of South African employees will be diagnosed with depression during the course of their employment.
However, only a small percentage, ranging from 15% to 25%, will seek and receive help.
There are different perspectives on mental health, but the reality is that the South African population continues to suffer from mental illness. But one thing is certain: Ultimately, all of us desire contentment and happiness in all aspects of life, albeit in different ways.
While there is no definitive formula for sustaining joy, Harvard instructor Arthur Brooks believes that treating happiness like a well-balanced investment portfolio is a good starting point. To experience fulfilment in life, Brooks writes in a post for CNBC that individuals should focus on four equally important areas.
Invest in these 4 areas for happiness:
Faith and life philosophy
Find what helps you make sense of the world, Brooks suggests. This can be a religion, spiritual practice or anything else that helps you find meaning in life.
Strengthen your connections with your family. These are the relationships which you don’t generally choose, but that you can count on.
Community and friends
Develop strong friendships because they are typically your most intimate relationships. Friendships are relationships that you choose, and they can impact your happiness.
Prioritise work that makes you feel fulfilled. This doesn’t necessarily mean a high-paying job because you don’t have to make much money in order to be successful and serve others.