SADAG: 2020 ‘our busiest year yet’ - as SA struggles with depression, anxiety

SADAG: 2020 ‘our busiest year yet’ - as SA struggles with depression, anxiety

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) fears an exponential rise in calls over the festive season as South Africans struggle to cope with Covid-19 and the lockdown.

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SADAG’s Cassey Chambers says the organisation is usually very busy over the festive season and expects the situation to worse this year.

“A lot of people turn to alcohol, especially during the festive season, but also it has been a really difficult year so having a drink can help you deal with your problems.

“That is what people think, but what they are not aware of is that alcohol is a depressant it might help in a moment to forget about problems, relax distress but it’s going to lower your mood.

“You are going to feel more depressed and it will also have a lot of side effects where it affects relationships and there are also a lot of financial issues where people spend recklessly and all of this affect one’s mental health,” says Chambers.


The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown have also had a devastating effect on relationships, mental health and finances.

This has led to an increase in anxiety and depression.

Chambers says 2020 has been the busiest year in the history of SADAG.  

“2020 has been an incredibly difficult year. With the start of the lockdown we saw a lot of people affected and further restriction on lockdown has affected a lot of people from their work, school, and family, financial relationship, even their anxieties.

“It has been the busiest year for SADAG in our 27 years of being around and we are anticipating that it is going to get even worse.

“SADAG was getting about 600 calls a day. We found that since the beginning of lockdown our calls has doubled and they are still rising we are getting over 1 500 calls a day, from people who are anxious, depressed and I think we underestimated the impacts of Covid-19 on mental health and a lot of people are suffering this festive season.”

She believes the lockdown has had a devastating impact on South Africans.

“When we look at the stats, even from overseas, on the huge impact that lockdown has had then looking in South Africa where we have so many other extra issues like trauma, gender-based violence, 2020 has been a difficult year.

“We have a high record number of people reaching out and we still have a lot of people who are still struggling, don’t even know about SADAG and don’t even know what to do.”



Chambers says reaching out to family and loved ones is one way to try and seek help.

“For this year we are having to socially distance because of Covid-19. We also know that we are in the second wave, so travelling put us in a lot of risks, we should find new ways of having meaningful conversations to avoid feeling alone and depressed."

The organisation is anticipating more calls during the festive season.

“Our call volume has been increasing every month, this festive season is going to be incredibly difficult on many people.

We are expecting more calls this festive season and we will be open with double the number of volunteers to help.

“A lot of people are really struggling and not coping also dealing with the trauma of losing the loved once, some are having to spend  the first festive season without  a loved one and it can be really difficult.”

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