The fear of being stigmatised is still one of the main reasons why people are hesitant to seek out help for psychiatric disorders or mental illnesses.

This is according to Mental Health Portfolio Manager at Pharma Dynamics Shouqat Mugjenker, who says an estimated three to four percent, or roughly two million South Africans, suffer from bipolar disorder.

Saturday is National Bipolar Awareness Day, it aims to shine the spotlight on this serious mental health condition. It’s marked by extreme changes in mood, thought, energy and behaviour.

Mugjenker says we need more awareness campaigns and more dialogue.

“I think like, all mental illnesses, there is still such a huge stigma attached and one of the things that we are doing now is starting to talk about all these various mental conditions so that we can reduce the stigma around these mental illnesses and that is the most important thing and that’s what we have to do to destigmatise mental illness especially down at community and grassroots levels and in the workplace for that matter.”