tress and loneliness during the coronavirus lockdown have prompted an upsurge in mental health complaints, says the SA Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag).
On Tuesday, the group reported an increase in calls from people feeling anxious, lonely, worried or depressed, partly due directly to the lockdown but also to indirect factors such as financial stress or interpersonal problems.
“Covid-19 and the lockdown have affected many South Africans, and it has had a serious impact on people living with a mental health issue, often heightening their symptoms,” said Sadag operations director Cassey Chambers.
“Sadag has been receiving calls from people with no history of anxiety or depression who are feeling overwhelmed, anxious and stressed.”
In response to the pandemic, Sadag conducted an online survey which showed that while the vast majority of respondents (92%) supported the lockdown, almost two-thirds (65%) were feeling stressed or very stressed.
“Sadag’s helplines receive calls from people across the country – from all races, gender, age, socio-economic backgrounds – which again highlight that mental illness does not discriminate,” the group said.
The survey identified the main lockdown challenges as:
anxiety and panic (55% of respondents);
financial stress and pressure (46%); and
poor family relations (30%).
The survey also highlighted activities associated with alleviating stress anxiety, such as exercise, chatting to somebody, or watching a film or TV show (not the news).
“The survey has given Sadag insight into the challenges so many people are facing throughout the country,” said Chambers. “We will continue to provide various online resources and support, self-help tips and coping skills addressing some of the issues highlighted in the survey.”