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Mental Health and Substance Abuse Prevention – Roselle Gowan

Having an international guest speaker is always a bonus. On Friday we warmly welcomed Roselle Gorman to talk on an exciting project, in its infancy, “Thanks a Million”, which focuses on Mental and Drug addiction challenges – a major problem, not only in South Africa, but around the world. Roselle was accompanied by her colleague Massimo Dal Corso, seen in the pic above.

Roselle, a high powered businesswoman with an extensive, impressive CV, is an achiever of note, especially in the events industry both in Australia and internationally.  An unfortunate freak accident when she fell through a deck chair and broke her neck some years ago was an accident that happened with a purpose. It changed her life and sent her on this current trajectory of mental illness.  

The presentation was inspiring,  Roselle shared that they had established a tripartite partnership between the Corporate Butterfly, U-ACT and Cricket South Africa (CSA) to tackle the twin challenges of mental health and substance abuse/addiction, especially amongst South Africa’s disadvantaged youth highlighted below. 

Mental Health Challenges the “Thanks A Million” Programme is Confronting

The fundamental challenges we aim to confront through the project are the following:
• From a mental health and substance abuse perspective, the landscape in South Africa is particularly dire and steadily deteriorating. For example, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), SA has one of the highest prevalence rates of mental illness globally, with 30% of all adults likely to experience mental disorder in their lifetime. Studies have revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the problem.
• SA’s precarious mental health situation is strongly linked to high rates of substance abuse and addiction. The statistics make for uncomfortable reading. Taking alcohol alone, according to the WHO, SA ranks 6th in the world in terms of alcohol consumption. The annual cost of alcohol abuse (in terms of absenteeism, health costs, etc), according to a 2014 South African Medical Journal study, is a staggering R37.9 billion. Other dependence-inducing substances have a similarly firm hold on a substantial portion of the public, with marijuana/dagga and codeine featuring prominently among the mind-altering substances being abused by approximately 1 out of every 5 SA adults (20%).
. • Unfortunately, appropriate professional treatment and services for psychiatric disorders and addiction, such as mental healthcare facilities and addiction rehabilitation centres, are often prohibitively expensive and only accessible to the more affluent sections of society. Furthermore, even establishing and maintaining cost-free mental health and addiction recovery support groups/meetings in underprivileged communities can be challenging, and groups/meetings in such localities are typically scarcer than in more economically prosperous areas. considers that mental health problems  When one considers that mental health problems and addiction disproportionately affect socio-economically disadvantaged groups, the scope and complexity of the problem become clearer. 

. • In addition, research indicates that cost is not the sole reason for the racial profile of clients in treatment facilities not reflecting the demographics of SA’s population. Other contributing factors include the stigma common to broader communities surrounding substance-related problems, with people who struggle with these problems often being viewed as ‘weak’ or ‘deviant’. 

The RC of Waterfront will seriously consider the opportunities created by the Thanks a Million programme and will continue to keep the conversation open on our further involvement in this unique platform from which to launch positive change in under privileged communities. 

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