In recent years we have seen a greater focus when it comes to mental health, particularly as it relates to burnout in the workplace. While more strides are being made in destigmatising mental health, apps like Panda are emphasising the importance of affordable access.
This on the back of Suicide Prevention Week, which is commemorated in South Africa on 10th September.
Panda highlights specifically the lack of affordable resources that are being made to men in the country, which is a highly concerning trend given the fact that SA ranks 10th globally in terms of the suicide rate, with men being four times more likely to commit suicide locally.
The numbers around this make for rather grim reading, as Panda notes that of the 13 774 suicides reported in South Africa in 2019, 10 861 were men, while 2 913 were women.
“These figures reveal that South Africa needs urgent intervention and resources to support everyone, but especially males, to curb stigma and navigate mental health burdens,” the app stresses in a press release sent to Hypertext.
“While our app is for anyone looking for mental health support, fewer men seek help or support. It is also estimated that a third of South Africans will suffer from a mental health issue at some time in their lives. We therefore dedicated our time and resources to develop the Panda app to give those seeking help a safe space to open up and receive the support they need when they need it,” adds clinical psychologist Allan Sweidan, co-CEO and co-founder of Panda.
He also acknowledges the fact that this is indeed a complex issue that plagues the country, and that a single solution cannot be found.
That said, there is scope for digital tools to play a key role, especially in addressing the hesitancy of many to seek help. Added to this is the fact that communicating via a mobile device can prove easier than doing so face-to-face.
“Being able to use a smartphone to find mental health support for issues you may be experiencing or set up a one-on-one session with a professional discreetly is a valuable tool that digital innovation enables,” notes Sweidan.
“Addressing the realities men face in South Africa, and the tragic consequences culminating in the tragic rate of suicide, requires a multi-faceted approach targeted not just at society’s youngest males, but also at the genuine need of men to find a better way forward. Using the digital tools that are increasingly at our disposal is a significant part of this,” Panda concludes.
To find out about more local assistance during Suicide Prevention Week, head here.