In South Africa, 1 in 3 people experience mental illness during their lifetime, at least 1 in 10 non-natural deaths are due to suicide, and poverty, crime, and HIV are common local psychosocial stressors. Despite this, it is estimated that only 5% of the national health expenditure goes towards mental health, and that nearly 75% of those with a mental health condition are not treated. Within this context exists an NPO offering free national mental health helplines, yet little is known about the population accessing this resource, the nature of difficulties reported, and the kind of assistance provided. Aiming to address this knowledge gap, the present exploratory mixed methods archival research is based on a sample (N = 300) of telephone counselling records from February and March 2017. The results of descriptive, inferential, and content analyses indicate that callers to the NPO’s helplines were mostly female, aged 20 to 29, of Black race, and from the province of Gauteng. The discovery of significant associations between certain variables shows that the profile of callers may vary depending on the race of a caller, as well as the day and time of a call. The majority of people called due to self-related concerns, most often mental illness and interpersonal problems. The NPO predominantly assisted callers with referrals to other resources, mainly support structures and counselling services provided by other informal community organisations. The findings provide valuable feedback to the NPO. They further suggest a heavy reliance on the informal non-profit sector, and a need for mental health support and counselling services. A larger study is needed to expand on these exploratory findings.
Mini Dissertation (MA)--University of Pretoria, 2017.