South Africans joined the rest of the world in the first ever international 24 hour virtual March for Mental Health on 09 October 2020 under the Move for Mental Health banner. During the virtual march, mental health experts, advocates, campaigners, and persons with lived experience made a case for investing in mental health. The virtual march was hosted in commemoration of World Mental Health Day, which takes place annually on the 10th of October.
The march was organised by Speak Your Mind, a global mental health campaign aimed at advocating for ending the silence around mental health and improving resourcing of mental health services. This year’s event, celebrated under the theme “Mental Health for All: Greater Investment, Greater Access”, brought people from across the globe together through online platforms in order to send a united message to those in power by calling on global leaders to invest in mental health. A total of 19 countries took part in the virtual march. Each participating country received an hour to highlight mental health challenges their citizens face and to ask their governments to make investing in mental health a priority. Countries taking part in the march included: Argentina, Australia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Peru, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Nepal, India, Indonesia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and Tonga among others.
In South Africa, the South African Federation for Mental Health (SAFMH), which is the Speak Your Mind country lead, coordinated the country’s participation of the virtual March in partnership with Waves for Change, Swim for Change, South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) and Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI). Professor of Public Mental Health, Crick Lund, shared statistics around mental health in South Africa while highlighting the importance of investing in mental health urgently. Youth influencers’ speakers from Waves for Change were Siphesihle Shosha, Chemica Blouw, Jose Peffer, Asiphe Mahlupa, Viyusa Sowambi and Aviwe Funani who all spoke about the challenges they and their communities face in accessing mental health care support services. Mental Health Advocate and Youth Leader, Christopher Kleynhans, from Swim for Change spoke about the importance of breaking mental health stigma and ensuring that youth can access mental health care support services.
Watch the full video from the virtual below: