Eyewitness news caught up with Dr. Dalsey Rakumako, co-founder of Queerwell, a South African and focused NGO whose goal is to provide free mental health care and support to the LGBTQ + community.

JOHANNESBURG – Mental health issues are constantly being discussed in various pockets around the world.

Now America is holding a Mental Health Awareness Month, the UN IA emphasizes the impact of the Ukrainian-Russian war on children, and we have had athletes like Simon Byles talk openly about their struggle with mental health issues.

Returning home to South Africa, the death of rapper Ricky Rick sparked a conversation about mental health on social media, where users shared their own efforts to break the stigma around various mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. .

Mental health will forever be in the talk, and eyewitness news has caught up with Dr. Dalsey Rakumako, co-founder of Queerwell, a South African NGO dedicated to free mental health care and support for the LGBTQ + community.

“Queerwell was established in 2019 at Vaal Pride. We sat discussing the needs of our community, and mental health was constantly emerging. Our needs, like LGBTI +, were not being met,” Dr. Rakumako said.

The doctor, businesswoman, CEO of Quadcare Medical Centers and DJ, naming just some of her titles, said she became an activist at an early age out of necessity, but unfortunately some of the things she struggled with during her student years with are part of the battles she is currently fighting.

The South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP) has said that mental health, especially in poor conditions, needs to be improved.

SASOP said nearly 91% of people with mental illness in South Africa have not received treatment.

READ: SASOP calls for better mental health across the country

. access, it is easier to diagnose depression and get help in Sandton than in the township. Access is a big problem, “said Dr. Rakumako.

Quirwell emphasizes that this is not enough to serve people living in rural and rural areas, especially LGBTI +.

“There are not enough practitioners in the districts. Accessibility is also an issue. ”

According to a 2019 study from the University of Cape Town, South Africa spends 5% of the total health budget on mental health services. This corresponds to the lower limit of international standards of the recommended amount that countries should spend on mental health.

The study estimates the treatment gap at 92%. This meant that less than 1 in 10 people living with mental illness in South Africa receive the necessary care. The UCT also found huge differences between provinces in the distribution of mental health resources. Provincial spending on mental health has fluctuated widely at all levels of the health care system. For example, in Mpumalanga the cost of mental health per uninsured South African was Rs 58.50 and in the Western Cape Rs 307.40.

Outside the Department of Health, organizations such as Queerwell provide mental health services to communities that are not covered, but funding is a problem.

“We have been working from the very beginning with small donations from individuals and organizations. We were unlucky enough to raise enough funding to keep the organization sustainable. We appeal to you to support us by spreading the message, ”Rakumakoe said.

Queer does not have a physical office, so they hold monthly mental health sessions. They have a WhatsApp number that people can turn to for help, and they travel around the country organizing seminars and meeting people’s needs as best they can.

“Funding so we can have physical offices where we run the organization, where people can come to support groups. The cost of mental health, the attitude of providers, where services are located, are not available to many people, ”Rakumakoe said.

Dr. Rakumako mentioned that Quirwell held his first Quirwell Mental Health Conference in October 2021, and this year in October.

The organization brought LGBTI + members from rural and rural areas to participate in the one-day conference.

“We have brought together government, private business and NGOs to help us do this. Did I say this is the first time in Africa? The conference focused 100% on LGBTQ mental health and well-being. We have attracted industry professionals. Please mention this in your history textbooks, ”Dr. Rakumako said at a previous conference.

READ MORE: How do I know if I have a mental health problem and where can I go for help?

According to the Mayo Clinic in the United States, “mental health anxiety becomes a mental illness when constant signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function.”

These diseases are often not noticed as they affect the brain. But that doesn’t make them any less severe. Problems can cause problems in your relationships, at work and in connection with yourself. In severe cases, some people try to harm themselves or commit suicide.

“It all starts in your head. If the mind is not all right, nothing else happens, ”said Dr. Rakumako of Quirwell.

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