Anne, diagnosed with major depression (2012), experienced harsh responses from the community and frustrations in accessing appropriate mental health services. Anne lives in Douglas, Northern Cape, South Africa, where resources for mental health is scarce and stigma levels high. Anne attended an Empowerment Session hosted by SAFMH and subsequently recruited as an advocacy leader, and later appointed as board member of SAFMH. Anne’s deep routed passion for mental health and for improving people’s lives, inspired her to take action.

Through being empowered, she’s been able to raise awareness and advocate for others, improve access to services in her community and address stigma. Anne has become a role model in her community and the go-to person to help anyone who requires assistance and support with their mental health. She developed partnerships (with no financial support) with relevant stakeholders and government departments that allows her to refer community members to appropriate services and at the same time hold government accountable for poor service delivery. Her community values the peer support that she provides and many benefitted from her presence in the community. The most significant impact she had made over time was to get the community to start talking about mental health.

SAFMH is the largest national mental health organisation in South Africa, constituted by 17 mental health societies.

Strategic key focus areas of the SAFMH  are: implementation of national awareness campaigns; empowerment of mental health care users and mental health organisations nationwide; advocating for the human rights of mental health care users; and mental health research and information management. 

The National Office engages with government and other key stakeholders in the mental health sector – nationally and internationally – with the aim of creating a society in which mental health and the wellbeing of mental health care users receive the attention they deserve.