Arts & Leisure

‘Lesotho leads Africa in suicides’

YAFID commemorates mental health day

Chris Theko

Young Adults Fighting Depression (YAFID), celebrated the World Mental Health Day through an intimate session held at Darham Link Lesotho on Saturday.  

The day is annually commemorated October 10, its purpose being to raise awareness, global mental health education and advocacy against social stigma. It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health. 

Speaking at the event, Chairperson of YAFID, Mamphepheng Molefe said they have realised that the issue of mental health in the country is still ignored and that the topic is surrounded by stigma. 

“It’s unfortunate that until today people are still afraid to ask for help on issues around mental health because when people struggle with mental illness challenges, they are called names such as ‘crazy’,” Molefe said. 

She added that the biggest challenge faced by Lesotho is the fact that adults do not understand the issues of mental health hence it still is problematic to tackle such. 

“Most people are still in the dark about conditions such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and so as a country, we still have a long way to go as far as education on mental health issues,” she added. 

Molefe said Lesotho has a very long way to go especially after a 2017 survey that was conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) whose findings are still relevant today. 

“According to the survey, Lesotho has the highest suicide rate in Africa and that is of a big concern for such a small country,” Molefe said. 

The study indicates that in Lesotho about 29 of every 100 000 deaths happen as a result of suicide. It further claims that suicide occurs throughout the lifespan of individuals and was the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds globally in 2016. The global health body linked the suicide rate to mental disorders in particular depression. 

Molefe encouraged young people to lead the fight against this worrying statistics and bring about change for future generations. 

The event was intimate and was attended by less than 50 people, most of whom were young people. 

YAFID is an organisation that was founded in October, 2018 by the chairperson who said she struggled with depression herself while she was at school in China.  The organisation has ten young members.

The organisation hopes to have such events in other districts in a bid to reach more young people. However, they are already helping all young people no matter their location in Lesotho. 

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