Obs non-profit offers a lifeline in times of despair

Cape Mental Health in Observatory offers counselling to those contemplating suicide or battling mental illness.

Cape Mental Health is just a phone call away for those contemplating suicide, says Carol Bosch, the deputy executive director of the Observatory-based non-profit.

World Suicide Prevention Day was on Friday September 10, and Ms Bosch says suicide prevention is everyone’s responsibility.

“For every suicide that takes place there are multiple attempts,” she says.

The Covid-19 pandemic has amplified mental-health issues because it has stretched coping skills beyond breaking point for many, she says. “We all have been affected by the pandemic, and we all experienced loss like loss of family members, loss of freedom. There have been various losses experienced, and people are finding it hard to cope at the moment.”

More than 700 000 people die from suicide annually and it is the leading cause of death among those aged 15 to 19, according to the World Federation of Mental Health.

“We find more and more people with feelings of anxiety and depression and that comes with the multiple challenges faced now in society,” says Ms Bosch.

Since the start of the pandemic, Cape Mental Health has been doing all of its counselling over the phone, and Ms Bosch says a clinical social worker will phone back those who don’t have data or airtime. Video sessions can also be arranged.

“We assess each client, and if they require further help we will refer them for special treatment.”

Cape Mental Health also accepts calls from family members who feel their loved ones are showing signs of withdrawal and need support from the organisation.

World Suicide Prevention Day is organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and endorsed by the World Health Organization. The event represents a global commitment to focus attention on suicide prevention. This year’s theme was “creating hope through action”.

Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez says the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic has increased feelings of despair, insecurity and, at times, hopelessness.

“If you are struggling emotionally, please do not hesitate to share your thoughts and feelings with people that you trust so that you do not have to face what you are going through alone. If you or someone you know is feeling like all hope is lost, we are offering help and support,” she says.

Contact Cape Mental Health at 021 447 9040 or visit capementalhealth.co.za. Or call Social Development at 0800 220 250.