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