Article by Khetiwe Mathuthu
Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how one feels, the way they think and how they act. It causes feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities one once enjoyed, feeling worthless or guilty, difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions, trouble sleeping, sleeping a lot, weight loss, weight gain etc. In most cases it can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease one’s ability to function at work, home etc. With that said, I’ll like to talk about depression and mental illness in most African homes.
As serious as depression is, in most African homes it is considered a Western thing. There is famous statement that people say when they hear that someone is suffering from depression “Its stress! But who doesn’t have stress?”. It is a sad statement, coming from uninformed people, which is why it is important to educate our people about depression and mental illness. It is important that we raise awareness and have as many conversations as we can about depression. Most people are afraid to speak out in fear of being mocked, not being taken serious, stigmatized or accused of (excuse me I’ll use Ndebele) ukugula umkhuhlane wabelungu. We have lost our loved ones to suicide because they could not speak out and get proper help. I cant stress this enough, everyone values life. For one to resort to suicide, I can’t imagine what they will be going through and feeling.
It is a known fact that thoughts of suicide is one of the symptoms of severe depression. Mind you depression symptoms varies from mild to severe. I’d like to believe at some point we all have gone through an episode of depression, some of us being fortunate enough to have mild depression. We need to educate ourselves about mental illness and depression, educate others. We need to support everyone suffering from depression, lend an ear, choose our words carefully, be empathetic. We need. To make it for someone to be comfortable to talk to us about their struggles without any fear of judgment or stigmatization. Depressed people need to be surrounded by love and positivity. As youths we need to take it upon ourselves to take the information that we get from our peers and spaces and share them with our parents, so they understand in depth about depression. We are fortunate enough to live in a world where advocating and speaking out is the the way to go and our parents never had that privilege. Let’s take it upon ourselves to advocate, raise awareness and educate everyone.
With that said, Youth For Innovation Trust sat down with Zenani Masuku and Manurse Ndlovu and held a conversation about suicides, mental illness and depression. Catch the conversation on our YouTube page.