Get walking, start talking!

Wednesday October 10 is the World Health Organisation’s Mental Health Awareness Day, and the Hope Hike and Hope Bike is your opportunity to help break the silence surrounding the disease of despair, to raise hope, and to spread the message that without mental health there is no health.

The walk takes place on Sunday October 14, at the Blaauwklippen Estate, Stellenbosch. The Hope Bike fun ride is 25km, starting at 7.45am, and the Hope Hike is 10km, starting at 8am; the 5km starts at 8.30am, and the 3km starts at 8.40am.

One in five South Africans suffer from a mental illness, with some waiting up to 10 years before seeking help. Depression is an illness, not a weakness, and can be treated.

According to the World Health Organisation depression has increased by 18% in the past 10 years, and is currently the third biggest global illness. Soon, in 2020, it will be the second biggest, and in 2030 the biggest.

According to one statistic, worldwide almost 350 million people suffer from clinical depression, with almost one million a year who lose their lives to suicide.

According to one statistic, depression costs the South African economy R218 billion, and is the cause of 47% of early retirement and 32% of all sick leave.

The individual suffering of those who have to live with a debilitating, paralysing, and sometimes fatal illness, however, cannot be described through mere statistics.

We cannot begin to imagine the suffering of those who have lost their lives to a suicidal depression, as recently with the tragic passing of Professor Bongani Mayosi.

Therefore, the sooner you recognise the symptoms and seek help, the sooner you can manage the disease with the help of therapy and medication. Depression is an illness, not a weakness.

You can also be an “Ambassador for Hope” throughout October by wearing your “sky-blue for hope” awareness ribbon, and wear something blue at the event to show you care.

Afterwards, Capetonians can enjoy the lovely eats and treats of the Blaauwklippen Sunday Market, and North Dutch delicacies can be enjoyed at the Van Gaalen’s cheesery, or order a picnic with real Dutch Boerenkaas and other treats.

Entry for the Hope Hike is R80 for the 10km, R60 for the 5km, and R40 for the 3km. Children under 12 pay R30 for the 3km or the 5km. Entry for the Hope Bike event is R100, and students pay R25 for all items.

Visit www.entryninja.com/events/event/30302-hope-hike-18 and click on the Hope Hike/Hope Bike logo. The entire entry fee goes toward the depression research fund of the Ithemba Foundation (Ithemba means hope in Xhosa).

For enquiries, email ithembafoundation@mweb.co.za