Advancing Social Innovation

Catalysts for Social and Economic Change

Mental Well-being Campaign


Mental health is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his/her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her/his community.

All these components are deeply interrelated and exist in a symbiotic relationship, with each influencing the other. As society has collectively begun to understand the interconnectedness of this relationship, we have come to appreciate that mental health and well-being are of vital importance to the functioning of individuals, communities and therefore society as a whole. In other words, mental health is not simply located in the mind, it is shaped in powerful ways by a young person's relationships, life events and living conditions.

While the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are yet to play out, it is generally agreed that the pandemic has led to an increase in stress, anxiety and a decrease in overall well-being and mental health. In South Africa for example, research has found that there has been an increase in depressive symptoms across the general South African population, and that the pandemic has caused increased instances of anxiety, financial insecurity, fear of infection and rumination.

Research has found that the prevalence of depressive symptoms is 72% among the youth, a figure which is higher than before the pandemic. In a survey conducted by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) in 2018, researchers found the following:

  • 17.6% of teens had considered attempting suicide;
  • 1 in 4 university students had been diagnosed with Depression;
  • Over 20% of 18 year-olds had one or more suicide attempts;
  • Male youth die by suicide more than female youth;
  • 1 in 6 teens are/will be addicted to cannabis.

Bertha Centre Mental Wellbeing Campaign

\ As part of the Youth Innovations (YI) portfolio’s commitment to better support the youth development and wider social development ecosystem, the YI portfolio kicked off the development and implementation of a youth mental health advocacy campaign in 2022. The campaign has three high level objectives. These objectives include:

  • Creating awareness of the importance of mental health and psychosocial support for young people;
  • Sharing innovative solutions and best practice;
  • Collaborating with the youth development ecosystem, to identify potential policy level-interventions that enable the delivery and uptake of youth-focused mental well-being support.

Underpinning the campaign is the belief that the effective delivery of educational and employment programmes, that look to produce capable and employable members of society, cannot be achieved in isolation and without adequate accounting for the importance of mental health and overall well-being.

To put it differently, young people require more than just material or educational support, they require psychosocial development and support, which involves the strengthening of ‘psychosocial muscles’ that are vital to human development. 

For collaboration opportunities please get in contact with the youth team at the Centre.

Campaign launch

The virtual launch of the Mental Well-being Campaign was hosted on 4 November 2021 (14:00–15:30) and featured professionals and researchers in the fields of psychology and public mental health. View the recording link here and the presentation from the webinar here.

Additional content

  • Watch the recording of our Bertha Centre Collectove webinar on 'Youth-led solutions for mental wellbeing', here;
  • Browse an overview of the key insights coming out of the Bertha Centre Collective Youth Led Solutions to Mental Well-Being, here;
  • Read the Op-Ed published by the Mail & Guardian, and written by Project Manager Luvuyo Maseko and Simnikiwe Xanga, on why youth feel like failures and what can be done about it, here;
  • Read the Op-Ed published by the Daily Maverick, and written by Project Manager, Luvuyo Maseko and Wayde Groep, on the importance of understanding mental health when working with young people, here;
  • Download our 'Affordable and Free counselling' resource poster, here;
  • Browse a resource list for Mental Well-being support nationally and within your region, here;
  • Listen to the Bertha Centre Podcast episode on a systems perspective to understanding youth mental health, here;
  • Gain a better understanding of what the experts are saying about youth mental, from our partner interviews, here.

Thank you to our partners that worked with us on this initiative;