As the globe observes World Mental Health Day, Minister in the Presidency for Women, Bathabile Dlamini, has called on all South Africans to consider the relationship between mental health and gender inequality.
Dlamini said the layered and multiple forms of material and symbolic violence against women of all ages, classes, racial and social backgrounds have severe mental health consequences when no action is taken.
“The burden of economic exclusion, sexist discrimination in households and communities and political violence can be very dire. Conditions are worse for women in rural areas where facilities, resources and public services are often not easily accessible,” Dlamini said.
Whereas World Mental Health Day is aimed at raising public awareness about mental health issues, the Minister said South African’s must consider that women are more vulnerable, as they bear the burden of family care, the risk of all forms of violence, the pain of economic discrimination and psychological afflictions.
This year’s World Mental Health Day is observed under the theme, as determined by the World Health Organization, ‘Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World’.
Dlamini said it is hoped that through this theme, South Africans will bring their attention to the plight of young women.
“Youth can be an exciting time. However, for many young women in South Africa, the continent and the world, it can also be a time of high stress and anxiety. For those from poor backgrounds, this is exacerbated by the concern for an uncertain, unfunded future,” the Minister said.
The Minister also called on all South Africans to consider reaching out and support young women emotionally, economically, and through as many other means as possible.
She said women in tertiary institutions are particularly vulnerable as they are faced with the uncertainty of finance, gender-based violence, and other systematic discriminations which can perpetuate mental illnesses.
Dlamini pleaded with all women who are faced with mental health challenges to seek assistance and call the Mental Health Information Line on 0800 567 567 or visit www.health.gov.za for more information. – SAnews.gov.za