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ello, Gugu my baby! We can’t talk for long! I I tell her I have ADHD (at­ten­tion deficit hy­per­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der), so we’ll be quick.have ADD [at­ten­tion deficit dis­or­der], so I can’t be still for long,” Lil­lian Dube says in that dis­tinc­tive voice of hers when I call her this week. At a re­cent me­dia sum­mit, or­gan­ised by her cho­sen char­ity, the SA De­pres­sion and Anx­i­ety Group (Sadag), the fa­mous ac­tress said that hav­ing can­cer was bet­ter than hav­ing de­pres­sion be­cause can­cer suf­fer­ers have sup­port and peo­ple un­der­stand what they are go­ing through.

“You can say to some­one ‘I am in phys­i­cal pain’ and, with­out even need­ing to see the wound or scar, they will un­der­stand. But with this [de­pres­sion], you can’t even tell you have it some­times, and it just feels like a bot­tom­less pit and you are there alone,” Dube says.

Cassey Cham­bers, Sadag op­er­a­tions di­rec­tor, says: “Many peo­ple think that men­tal ill­ness is some­thing that hap­pens to other peo­ple. But one in three peo­ple in South Africa will have one or more men­tal ill­ness in their life­time, so its hap­pen­ing to many ‘or­di­nary’ peo­ple. The stats mean that each house­hold has at least one per­son suf­fer­ing from men­tal ill­ness.”

Men­tal ill­ness is the um­brella term to re­fer to dif­fer­ent men­tal con­di­tions, and Cham­bers says the most com­mon in South Africa are de­pres­sion, bipo­lar dis­or­der, schizophre­nia, post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der (PTSD) and anx­i­ety.

“These can be co­mor­bid, mean­ing one per­son can have more than one at the same time,” Cham­bers says.

In its April 2016 fact sheet, the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) es­ti­mates that 350 mil­lion peo­ple of all ages suf­fer from de­pres­sion glob­ally, and says that more women are af­fected by de­pres­sion than men and that de­pres­sion can lead to sui­cide.

Trauma, gen­der and men­tal ill­ness

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