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.
“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
Thank you for sharing. I am Simphiwe Dana and I suffer from depression and anxiety. I don’t take meds for the depression as I fear it will affect my creativity. I do take stressam for the anxiety. https://t.co/eu4lYLZQFx— #BamakoIsHere (@simphiwedana) April 12, 2021
Nina Hastie - Comedian and Actress
A thread about Depression -I’m not a medical health professional but this is my experience— NINA LOVES YOU (@THATninahastie) April 11, 2021
Firstly, there are different forms of depression & different ways that they manifest. Personally I suffer from manic-depression.
This is the most difficult to identify - and why people
Lalla Hirayama - TV presenter
Thanks for sharing. My name is Lalla Hirayama. I struggle with panic & anxiety disorder, depression and have gone through 3suicidal phases in my life. I have worked w/my psychologist for 8 years & a psychiatrist. I’m currently on medication to help.— Lalla Hirayama (@Lalla_Hirayama) April 12, 2021
Let’s destigmatize 🙏 https://t.co/nPUZNLU1yN
Gasant Abarder - Editor
Thank you sharing. I'm Gasant Abarder and I take medication for anxiety and depression. And I'm okay with that. Let's destigmatise! 🙏🏾 https://t.co/r1WgABqGIQ— Gasant Abarder (@GasantAbarder) April 11, 2021
Melanie Bala - Radio presenter
Thank you for sharing. I am Melanie Bala and I've suffered from depression, and post-natal depression. I take medication for my anxiety when it flares up. Let's destigmatise 🙏🏽 https://t.co/UQfTpCY2DB
— IG: melzinbala (@MelBala) April 12, 2021
Phumzile Van Damme - Politician
Thanks for sharing. I’m Phumzile Van Damme. I gave Anxiety. I struggle with depression, PTSD & insomnia. I take medication. My psychiatrist & I had been working on reducing doses, until trauma hit, so doses are back up again & I see my therapist weekly. Let’s share & destigmatize https://t.co/bWgUDnQAoY— Phumzile Van Damme (@zilevandamme) April 12, 2021
Knaomi - TV presenter
Thank you for sharing.— K Naomi👑 (@KNaomi_N) April 12, 2021
I am K Naomi Noinyane and in 2018 I found out I had minor depression but chose not to take meds because I was to scared to be reliant on them.
I do although still suffer from anxiety...
A therapist and my supportive family are my coping mechanisms.🙏🏽 https://t.co/MZkiPc014n
TheGabi - Journalist
Thank you for sharing. I am Gabi Mbele and I've suffered from depression and anxiety. I am no longer as reliant on my medication since taking necessary lessons on how to manage my mental health. Let's destigmatise 🙏 https://t.co/fqcsDjNBNv— Gabi Mbele™ (@TheGabi) April 12, 2021
Aaron Moloisi - TV presenter and Actor
Thank you for sharing. I’m Aaron Moloisi and I suffered mild depression. Thanks to my spiritual mentor for helping me realise that over thinking things can lead to severe depression. Depression affects men too.— Aaron Moloisi (@aaronmoloisi) April 12, 2021
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.