South African Depression and Anxiety Group

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Mental illness, and the stigma surrounding it, is a critical issue in South Africa. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) is at the forefront of patient advocacy, education and de-stigmatisation of mental illness in the country. Its expertise lies in assisting patients and callers throughout South Africa with mental health queries.

SADAG is a nonprofit organisation, a registered as a Section 21 Company, with an 18a tax exemption. The organisation has on its board a powerful team of patients, psychiatrists, psychologists, and general practitioners. SADAG was established 17 years ago to serve as a support network for the thousands of South Africans who live with mental health problems. Currently, it is estimated that one in five people will, or do, suffer from a mental illness. It manages a 15-line counselling-and-referral call centre, and is the voice of patient advocacy, working in urban, peri-urban, and the most rural communities across South Africa.
What SADAG does?

  • SADAG maintains a 15 toll-free helpline call centre in Sandton Johannesburg, which operates from 8h00 - 20h00, seven days a week;
  • SADAG receives over 400 calls per day and approximately 100 e-mails per day from patients seeking help. It then refers them onto other mental health professionals using its extensive referral guide of every listed hospital, clinic, psychologist, psychiatrist other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and free medical treatment where available for each and every province;
  • In addition, SADAG also has a 24-hour substance abuse helpline (0800 12 13 14) which is managed by two trained counselors;
  • SADAG has recruited over 100 volunteers to help with the call centre, rural outreach programmes, school talks and support group trainings;
  • Educational materials are distributed to support groups and patients, including free multilingual brochures on mental health issues, including depression, bipolar, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, sleeping disorders, schizophrenia, teenage suicide and substance abuse;
  • SADAG has a comprehensive and informative website that has over 600 000 hits per month. You can access local and international articles, information, list of SADAG and other mental health events around the country;
  • A network of over 260 support groups throughout South Africa (including outreach groups in remote rural areas), where the community members lack access to resources and have no funds for treatment;
  • SADAG offers workshops and training programmes countrywide, in various languages, to a divergent group, these include commercial and large corporate, traditional healers, home-based care workers, hospitals, clinics, correctional facilities, schools, universities, churches and youth groups. Topics include depression, panic, bipolar, dealing with stress, PTSD, suicide prevention and mental health stigma;
  • SADAG has worked in schools in all the nine provinces, with learners, parents and educators. SADAG’s programme ‘Suicide Shouldn’t be a Secret’ aimed at reducing South Africa’s high rate of teenage suicide. Of all teenage deaths, 9.5 percent of them are due to suicide. SADAG teaches the youth that depression is treatable and suicide is preventable and that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem;
  • SADAG also does extensive employee assistance programmes (EAPs), corporate training, and employee wellness days around the country;
  • Powerful media campaigns designed to de-stigmatise mental illness and promote mental health are at the forefront of SADAG’s patient advocacy work. In order to achieve this, SADAG runs television (TV) and radio interviews, sending out of weekly press releases to print, radio and electronic media, as well as running specific campaigns to raise awareness of bipolar disorder, teenage suicide, men, depression and panic disorder and many other mental health problems. SADAG has produced over a dozen radio advertisements, in various languages, and eight television advertisements. SADAG’s media exposure amounts to over eight million rand of free advertising and press, each and every month;
  • SADAG is recognised for its work in rural communities in the identification of depression in HIV and AIDS patients, and the training of home-based care workers on how to recognise the symptoms, as well as where to access treatment for their patients. Many have started their own support groups in their communities;
  • Speaking books are SADAG’s innovation to help low-literacy rural communities understand vital healthcare messages (such as mental health, HIV and AIDS, TB, malaria, safe sex, teenage suicide, and clinical trials) has won SADAG numerous local and international awards: including the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief  (PEPFAR), World Bank and the Department of Trade and Industries’ ‘Award for Innovation’;
  • SADAG’s work has been endorsed by the World Bank, the Department of Health, the Department of Education, Johns Hopkins, the United States Embassy, De Beers, World Federation for Mental Health, the World Health Organisation (WHO), European Union, Department of Social Development WMA and the Global Fund.

SADAG is available from 8h00 to 20h00, seven days per week.

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