Who Should Mental Health Affect Before We Take It Seriously?

If not the patients of Esidimeni, then Kanye West? Will we sit up and take notice then?

09/12/2016 04:54 SAST | Updated 09/12/2016 13:53 SAST

Mental disorders have existed for centuries and have affected many, however the gravity of it is still not seen.

The latest prominent person to be made a joke of for his mental status is hip hop singer, Kanye West, with people even questioning the truth to his status.

This bears these questions... how should one look for others to believe that they have an imbalance? Or better yet, should those living with mental illness be written on the forehead?

If no answers are available to these questions, then why are survivors taken for granted or even turned to jokes?

Numbers show that more than 17 million South Africans are living with mental disorders. According to SADAG this illness starts from children as young as 14 years of age.

But that still doesn't prompt our own government to view this illness as a serious one.

Patients were moved willy nilly from the Life Healthcare Esidimeni because government felt that it needs to close the home, due to funding constraints, to so many patients who felt at peace living there.

The results of course were fatal, with more than 30 people living with mental illness dying from a lack of care and the change of environment amongst other things.

This again takes us back to the question, who needs to live with mental illness for it to be taken serious?

Mental illness is usually an imbalance in the brain it can be hereditary or even develop over time.

Stress is also a contributor and given the amount of stress people are going through, this illness can really not be discarded.

Yes, a month is spent in honour of those living with mental illness but one is yet to see whether the president will one day attend one of the events hosted by mental awareness groups and actually talk about it to the people of South Africa.

If you think this is just another rant, well lets also look at at how SADAG is struggling for funding as they continue to send emails to potential donors and those who would in fact care.

According to SADAG, mental health has always fallen at the bottom of budget allocations this is despite the Mental Health Care Act saying that the state has a duty to ensure the provision of mental health care services and promote the provision of community-based care, treatment and rehabilitation

A few years ago, I remember a teenager from Soweto was sexually abused by young boys from her neighbourhood who knew very well that she was living with mental illness and her stage was more severe than some.

This issue of course made big news but quickly died down, because sexual abuse has become a norm and mental illness is a none story.

The health budget is mostly spared on infrastructure followed by HIV and TB care, mental illness only has a budget of just over four percent nationally.

We have mental illness homes across the country which are full to capacity but that still does not seem to show people how real it is.

Black and white South Africans, mental illness is not witchcraft or lack of drive, its what most people have to live with daily and even take chronic medication to be accepted by society.