Mental Health Awareness | Western Cape Government

Mental Health Awareness

(Western Cape Government)

World Mental Health Day is celebrated every year on 10 October. The day was initiated by the World Federation of Mental Health (WFMH), and the World Health Organization (WHO) supports this initiative through raising awareness on mental health issues. The 2012 theme for World Mental Health Day is "Depression: A Global Crisis".


What is Mental Health?

Mental health is not merely about the absence of mental illness, but rather the presence of mental health and well-being. Mental health is about how you feel about yourself, realising your own potential, how you relate to others and how you deal with the opportunities, difficulties and challenges of everyday life.

How Can I Maintain My Mental Health Well-being?

The National Health System (NHS) provides the following tips for maintaining health and well-being:


  • Connect. Connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships.
  • Be active. You don't have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find the activity that you enjoy, and make it a part of your life.
  • Keep learning. Learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument or figure out how to fix your bike?
  • Give to others. Even the smallest act can count, whether it's a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental well-being and help you build new social networks.
  • Take notice. Be more aware of the present moment, including your feelings and thoughts, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness", and it can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.


What is Mental Illness?

A mental illness is a treatable condition of the brain, mind and emotions that may affect the way a person thinks, feels or behaves. Mental disorder includes a broad range of problems with different symptoms. However, these are generally characterised by some combination of abnormal thoughts, emotions, behaviour and relationships with others. Examples of these are: schizophrenia, depression, mental retardation and disorders due to drug abuse. Most of these disorders can be successfully treated.

Issues Facing People with Mental Illness

The main issues facing people with mental illness is discrimination and stigma due to the general lack of insight into mental health-related issues. People with mental health problems face poverty, homelessness and unemployment due to discrimination in the workplace (The Guardian, 2004).

Apart from the difficulties arising directly from their mental illness, people who live with mental illnesses face a wide variety of other issues. These include the following:

  • Difficulties in obtaining the right diagnosis and treatment, as these illnesses are poorly recognised and resources for mental healthcare have been historically underfunded.
  • Difficulties in being accepted in society due to stigmatisation of mental illness.
  • Difficulties in finding work due either to the symptoms of the illness which may make it difficult to work, or due to negative and unfounded perceptions of people who live with mental illnes.
  • Difficulties in finding accommodation.
  • Difficulties in relating to others who may not understand how the illness affects them.
  • Difficulties in having these various issues addressed due to the fundamentally disempowering nature of society's response to people living with mental illness.

Despite all of this, most people who experience mental illness will, if given the right support, be able to recover sufficiently to be able to live, work, learn and participate fully in their communities.

View the Signs of Mental Illness.


What Help is There for People with Mental Health Problems?

Help is available from a wide variety of professionals, including counsellors, nursing practitioners, social workers, occupational therapists, psychologists, general practitioners and psychiatrists.

This may involve a range of treatments including occupational and behaviour interventions, your family, counselling and other "talking therapies" and medications, to name but a few.

Such help can be obtained through your local clinic or general practitioner. Western Cape Government facilities that offer services to people with mental health problems are: Community Health Centres, District Hospitals and Psychiatric Hospitals.

Who to Contact?

Contact these Provincial Mental Health Services:

Provincial Mental Health Services
Groote Schuur Hospital Tel: 021 404 2175/51
Tygerberg Hospital Tel: 021 938 5120
Valkenberg Hospital Tel: 021 440 3111
Lentegeur Hospital Tel: 021 370 1111
Stikland Hospital Tel: 021 940 4400
Alexandra Hospital Tel: 021 503 5000


Contact these support groups for mental illnesses


Support Groups for Mental Illnesses
Anxiety Disorder Clinic
(Assessment and treatment for people from all areas with anxiety disorders)
Tel: 021 940 4442/3 or ext 4555
Depression and Anxiety Disorders Support Group
(The group has a network of support across South Africa)
Tel: 011 783 1474/76 or Tel: 011: 884 1797
Reach Out
(This organisation is a support group for people living with depression)
Tel: 088 120 4136
Cape Support for Mental Health
(Support for families of people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder)
Tel: 021 448 0760
Support Group for Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder Tel: 021 671 2519
Western Cape Bipolar Association
(Support and information on manic depression)
Cell: 082 855 3180



Source: Department of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO)

The content on this page was last updated on 6 July 2018