The first few steps were taken in a campaign to elevate awareness of mental illness today.
The “Crazy for Walking” campaign has a group of walkers walking a crazy distance of 1 500km from Pretoria to Cape Town in a period of just over five weeks, planning to arrive in Cape Town on World Mental Health Day, 10 October.
Francois Louw, executive director of the National Hospital Network (NHN) and CEO of Vista Clinic, one of 30 psychiatric hospitals in the NHN Group and the principal sponsor of the initiative, says: “About one in every three South Africans will suffer from a mental health episode at some stage in their lives and we want to increase sensitivity towards- and awareness of- mental illness.
“We also want to de-stigmatize the associations around the word ‘crazy’ which is often used through ignorance and fear of mental illness and thus we are supporting this ‘crazy’ initiative of a walk from Pretoria to Cape Town.
“It is extremely fitting that the walk commences from Freedom Park as it is our intention with this campaign to free sufferers from the stigma associated with mental Illness”
The campaign will focus on depression, anxiety and mood disorders and as the walkers pass through the many towns along the route, there will be educational sessions with free talks at public venues, to increase awareness and understanding of mental illness.
Details of the venues of the talks are also available on the website. The website and the social media platforms will provide regular updates on the progress of the campaign.
“Exercise is one of the tools that assists people to cope with depression and anxiety,” says Dr Jerrie Bezuidenhout, director of medical services at Vista Clinic and one of the walkers on the Crazy for Walking campaign. “We have developed a Happiness HELPS programme and we will promote this along the route in order to equip people suffering from mental illness with some coping tools.”
H — Help Others
E — Exercise (which the walkers will get plenty of)
L — Learn
P — Play
S — Spiritual Growth
On 10 October, World Mental Health Day, Crazy for Walking aims to bring attention to mental illness in a fun and “crazy” manner through encouraging all South Africans to participate in “Crazy Socks Day”. On the day, people are encouraged to wear their “crazy” socks and to share pictures of their socks and them wearing these across our social media platforms on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.