According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression while just as many suffer from a range of anxiety disorders. One in four South Africans has or is affected by mental health issues, but only 10% - 15% of them get help. Depression is ranked as the single largest contributor to global disability and is also the “major contributor to suicide deaths” numbering close to 800 000 per year.
Depression symptoms include feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, sleep changes, loss of energy as well self-loathing to name a few.
Who is most affected by mental health issues?
Mental health affects millions of people, manifesting as social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and various phobias that fall under the anxiety umbrella disorders. What many might not know is that anxiety is a natural part of the human body as it helps to keep us alive and & assists in keeping us vigilant of dangers in the world. According to WHO, women are more likely to seek help for their mental health problems.
So, the real question then becomes…
Are women more prone to anxiety disorders?
Anxiety disorders differ from your typical anxiety. These psychiatric disorders involve extreme fear or worry, which interferes with a person’s ability to manage their day-to-day responsibilities. Men and women experience different levels of anxiety at different points in their lives. According to the UK’s Mental Health Foundation, twice as many women are likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety or panic disorder.
Research shows that depression is becoming the second biggest cause of disability worldwide and the leading cause in many high-income nations. That said, the misconception that “men don’t cry” could be causing many men to keep their own mental health issues under wraps and preventing them from seeking help. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised if the numbers start to show that both sexes are equally affected by these mental health disorders.
Mental health is an issue for both women and men
Mental health awareness is becoming a greater part of the cultural conversation with many coming out and speaking about their mental health disorders. Mental health awareness month aims to shine a light on these conditions as it aims to remove the stigma. However, men are not as forthcoming with seeking help and many remain undiagnosed due to fear of judgment. Men, in particular; fear being perceived as ‘weak-minded’ as this idea does not support the preconceived ideas of how a man ‘should’ be. As a result, South African men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women.
The country’s only suicide helpline, the SA Depression and Anxiety Group, has received 145 000 calls to its 22 lines so far in 2019. Most of these callers are women, but some of these calls are from men.
Mental Illness and Health Insurance
Depression is a pre-existing long-term condition that requires on-going care and treatment. Several health insurance plans require full disclosure before signing up with them. When considering health plans, it’s vital to know if depression is covered as a pre-existing condition. Depression may be covered under many different types of health plans as part of what is known as behavioural health coverage. If you struggle with anxiety and depression, it’s important to shop for health plans carefully and know if depression is covered as a pre-existing condition.