Understanding mental health & young people

This page is a one-stop information resource for any and all mental health and wellbeing related questions you may have.

Half of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age but most cases are undetected and untreated. South Africa has an estimated population of 58,78 million people, and the youth (aged 18–34) constitute almost a third of the population (17,84 million). As a large part of the population, young people are at the heart of the future in South Africa, and it is important that our youth are supported and empowered. This includes supporting their mental health needs.

It is estimated that 1 in 4 people worldwide will experience some form of mental health problem during their lifetime (WHO, 2001). But mental illness is not something to be ashamed of! Mental health affects us all and should be talked about openly.

It is our hope that this page will provide you with easy to understand, relevant and trustworthy information about any questions you may have about mental health.


Bullying is defined as behaviour that is meant to be hurtful, that targets a person or group of people that happens more than once, and embarrasses, threatens or intimidates the person being bullied.

Drug & Alcohol Use

Excessive drug and alcohol use, also called substance use disorder, refers to the repeated and ongoing usage of legal and illegal substances such as tobacco, alcohol, dagga, and other drugs.

Exam Stress

Tests and exams are a part of life, whether at school or university, taking a test for your learner’s license or as part of a job application, we all have to write tests at some point and for some people, exams are very stressful.


Self-harm, also called self-injury, refers to behaviours in which a person deliberately hurts themselves. Although people of any age can engage in self-harming behaviour, it is common in young people.

Social Media Risk

Most young people spend a large part of their day engaging on one or more social media platforms. However, research is showing that social media can also have a very negative affect on young people’s mental health.


Suicide is defined as the act of deliberately taking your own life, and globally it is among the top three causes of death for young people aged 15 to 34 years who don’t seek out help or support.

Mental Disorders

Mental disorders (also mental illnesses) refers to a wide range of mental health disorders that effect your mood, thinking and behaviour and can affect anyone regardless of race, age, sex or social status.

Intellectual Disabilities

Intellectual disabilities are disabilities characterised by limitations of mental functioning and abilities, as well as adaptive function and behaviour, which covers many everyday social and practical skills.

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