Growing in popularity and increasingly used for the expression of both positive and negative emotions, Facebook
is easily accessible for many people, who are already familiar with the way Facebook
chat works. Anyone with a question about bipolar disorder will be able to connect with psychiatrists and SADAG counsellors through the SADAG Facebook
page (The South African Depression and Anxiety Group).
Those living with bipolar disorder, as well as their family, friends and loved ones, will have the opportunity to find out more about the symptoms of the disorder, how it is treated, medication, how to support someone close to them living with the condition and where they can find more information, support and clinical care. The schedule and links for the weekend online chats on Facebook
and the Lundbeck My Support line are as follows:Facebook
(To join the chats, go to the Facebook
page or visit www.sadag.org
and click on the button to link to the Facebook
Friday, 25 May - 13:00 - chat hosted by psychiatrist, Dr Jan Chabalala.
Sunday, 27 May - 19:00 - chat hosted by psychiatrist, Dr Dora Wynchank.Lundbeck My Support
(To join the chats, go to www.sadag.org
and click on the button to link to the My Support chat.)
Friday, 25 May - 19:00 - chat hosted by psychiatrist, Dr Frans Korb.
Saturday, 26 May - 13:00 - chat hosted by psychiatrist, Dr Frans Korb.
Earlier this year, SADAG partnered with Facebook
and became the official suicide prevention agency for South Africa. This means that if any suicidal content is posted on Facebook
by someone who lives in the country, concerned loved ones or even strangers can report this content via Facebook
, which will ensure that SADAG’s contact details are sent to the person identified and the NGO is also made aware of the posting. “We have had a very positive response to this new suicide prevention tool and regularly contact South Africans who may be at danger of committing suicide,” says SADAG founder, Zane Wilson. Today, social media is the way millions of people connect and reach out to each other, often seeking help and advice, which is what makes Facebook
such a powerful medium, perfect for reaching many South Africans this Bipolar Awareness Day.
“People living with bipolar disorder experience unusually intense emotional states,” explains Dr Frans Korb. “These emotional swings usually occur in distinct, identifiable time frames.” For the more than 450 000 South Africans living with bipolar disorder, claims that they are not really ill or are using the illness as an excuse for their behaviour make it difficult for them to seek help and support – at times, even from their loved ones. This emotional isolation heavily contributes to poor recovery and, for some, suicidal thoughts. “Fear, shame and even guilt keep many people suffering in silence and for some it is years before they are properly diagnosed and treated,” says Cassey Chambers, SADAG’s operations director.
Aside from the online chats taking place, SADAG also has a new brochure on bipolar disorder, sponsored by Astra Zeneca, which is free to download from www.sadag.org
or can be sent on request.
For those without internet access, SADAG’s bipolar toll-free helpline – 0800 70 80 90 – is open from 8:00 to 20:00, seven days a week, providing callers with free information about the disorder, telephonic counselling and referrals to mental health professionals, as well as offering a link to bipolar support groups in different areas. SADAG can also be reached via its SMS line – 31 393.