Helping create awareness through his own experiences and illness Henry Cock is on a mission to create awareness by breaking the Men’s Guinness World Record for SADAG. Picture: Supplied.
Helping create awareness through his own experiences and illness Henry Cock is on a mission to create awareness by breaking the Men’s Guinness World Record for SADAG. Picture: Supplied.

Breaking the stigmas attached to mental illness through awareness

By Shanice Naidoo Time of article published Sep 21, 2021

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Cape Town- World Mental Health day is fast approaching and the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) is well underway with creating awareness about this and trying to break stigmas attached to it.

World mental Health Day is celebrated on October 10.

Sadag development manager Fatima Seedat said it is very important to share mental health information and create awareness because the more knowledge you have the better you understand your mental health and will know when and where to reach out for help.

“We encourage people to reach out and seek help. Sadag has dedicated 24-hour helplines where a caring counsellor will be able to assist. The awareness of mental health and the more conversations around it would help destigmatise mental health in communities,” she said.

Helping create awareness through his own experiences and illness Henry Cock is on a mission to create awareness by breaking the Men’s Guinness World Record for Sadag.

From Kosi Bay in KwaZulu-Natal to Vioolsdrif in the Northern Cape Cock aims not only to break the Guinness World Record but to raise awareness about mental health and raise funds for the Sadag.

Today Cock will officially break the Men’s Record for the most consecutive half marathons, which currently stands at 75.

Cock began his journey on July 8.

In 2019, Cock started seeing a therapist. After months of therapy, he got the courage to take medication and admit to the people he cared about the most that he suffered from anxiety.

“It takes great courage to speak out and recognise that you suffer from a mental disorder. The more we can open the conversation surrounding Mental Health, the greater the understanding and empathy will be for those that suffer,” said Cock.

He hopes to raise R4 million for Sadag through his Mentally Aweh Initiative.

“If I can raise 10c from 8 000 people for every kilometre I run in 2021, that’s 1 coffee per month, per person, I can reach my target and help people get the help and support they need for mental illness.”

“My message to people suffering from mental illness is don’t be afraid to own it, get support and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Help is important and you will be surprised by the amount of people out there that are willing to help and willing to listen but you just need to be brave enough to take that first step and acknowledge it and let people know you need that help. I’d like to see people be more open about mental health.

I’d like to see the stigma around mental health go away. I still think and I have seen it on a couple of my runs, I asked a couple of guys to send videos, they are afraid to do it because of either being labelled weak or anything like that. I’d like to see the stigma broken down then I think people will feel better talking about it and I think in South Africa there is a stigma attached to it. I think we need to embrace it for what it is. It is a problem that affects people, no you are not weak. Just let’s break that stigma down,” said Cock.

In South Africa, 1 in 5 people suffer from a mental health disorder.

“Seventy-five percent of these people don’t receive any kind of mental health care or support. Shockingly, the percentage of South Africa’s uninsured population that has access to some form of mental healthcare is under one percent,” said Sadag’s founder Zane Wilson.

Sadag is manned by over 200 volunteers.

From January to September 2020, Sadag received 315 666 calls – that’s over three times the capacity of the FNB stadium. From 2019 to 2021, Sadag’s calls have increased from 600 to 2 200 daily. Sadag also runs the only suicide prevention helpline in South Africa, which costs over R120 000 a month to operate.

A stipulation from the Guinness World Records is that for every run, he must have at least one other person running alongside him as a witness. There has been no shortage of volunteers to fulfil this role.

“Lookout for Henry passing through your city, join him, cheer him on or have a chat,” Wilson said.

Cock passed through Knysna from September 19 to 20 and is expected to pass through Sedgefield between today and tomorrow. He is expected do be in the Wilderness on September 23, George September 24 to 25, Mossel Bay 25 to 26 September, Still Bay September 28 to 29 and Agulhas September 30.

Weekend Argus

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