South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) was started in 1994 by Zane Wilson after her intense struggles with anxiety and mental illness, in order to improve awareness of – and access to mental health services. She operated as a non-profit organization based in Johannesburg, and won numerous awards for her work. In 2017, Dr Suvira Ram all, a leading psychiatrist in Durban, approached Zane to start the first provincial office of SADAG, in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. These negotiations bore fruit and in 2018, the SADAG KZN offices were officially opened, but with the proviso that KZN does its own fundraising and manages its own financial sustainability.
SADAG KZN, therefore, is navigating a new space in the province, and is seeking to grow its mandate, vision and reach. Its core aim is to improve awareness and access to grassroots mental health care services, by setting up community-based support groups and improving emotional wellbeing. The majority of beneficiaries are women, who carry an unfair burden of psychosocial problems, due to the gendered nature of health inequalities and the often sexist and racist roots of the social determinants of health. In addition to SADAG being founded by a woman, the new KZN office is led by a strong group of women, led by a women director, and with the vast majority of its volunteers being women too!
The WPVLSA project has three broad aims:
- To grow an intersectoral, collaborative platform amongst key stakeholders in KZN
- To set up free support groups across KZN to improve access to community-based psychosocial care, for women in particular.
- To embed a participatory action research approach into our initiative to ensure ongoing knowledge production and continuous monitoring and evaluation