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South African Stars Are Speaking Up About Their Mental Health After the Tragic Death of Nellie Tembe


Why Global Citizens Should Care
The impact of COVID-19 and its mandated lockdown restrictions added to the mental health issues that people worldwide were already facing. The United Nations’ Global Goal 3 calls to ensure good health and promote well-being for all. Join us here and take action to join our movement of destigmatizing mental health issues.

South African celebrities have taken to social media to share their own personal stories of battling mental health issues following the death of 22-year-old Anele “Nellie” Tembe, a qualified chef and model as well as fiancée to rapper AKA.

Tributes to Tembe and a national conversation on mental health was sparked by reigning Miss South Africa, Shudufhadzo Musida, following Tembe's death in Cape Town on Sunday. Police are still investigating the circumstances around her death.

Musida had previously vowed to use her status and platform to tackle mental health during her winning speech at the Miss South Africa 2020 pageant, and now she is living up to her promise. 

She kicked off her mission in February 2021 by joining up with the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) to launch#MindfulMonday, an online series where the model discusses mental health with medical professionals and its live streamed weekly on Instagram.

She said: “It is important for education to be prioritised in our society, to change the narrative about mental health that exists. We have a collective responsibility to destigmatize and inform how we as a society view mental health. 

“For change to come about in our communities we need to tackle the mind, the powerhouse, if the mind is conquered we will go nowhere,” she added.

In a recent livestreamed session on Monday, Musida openly spoke about mental health discrimination and stigma in the workplace. Leading up to the Monday show, she spearheaded a conversation on Twitter and she reached out to celebrities, influencers, and citizens alike to share their experiences with mental health.

According to SADAG, South Africans’ mental health has worsened in the past year due to the COVID-19 lockdown and its restrictions. The organisation has received a surge of calls during the harsh lockdown period, with South Africans who were experiencing anxiety and depression desperately seeking help. 

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“SADAG has been receiving calls from people with no history of anxiety or depression who are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed,” said Cassey Chambers, Operations Director at SADAG.

Following the death of Tembe, many South African public figures took to social media to share their tributes and speak about their lived experiences with mental health. Rapper and TV star Boitumelo “Boity” Thulo tweeted, “The darkness on social media can be unbearably overpowering. Please let’s all choose kindness as often as possible. Please. 🙏🏾” 

Here are some tweets from public figures who opened up about their stories with mental health issues. 

Simphiwe Dana - Musician

Nina Hastie - Comedian and Actress

Lalla Hirayama - TV presenter

Gasant Abarder - Editor

Melanie Bala - Radio presenter

Phumzile Van Damme - Politician 

Knaomi - TV presenter

TheGabi - Journalist

Aaron Moloisi - TV presenter and Actor


If you ever feel like you need support with your mental health you can contact SADAG on their mental health line 011 234 4837, alternatively you can check their website for more information.