SADAG launches first-ever mental health support programme for NPOs

The programme will include a 24-hour toll-free mental health helpline for all NPOs.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) has partnered with Tshikululu Social Investments to launch the country’s first-ever mental health support programme for non-profit organisations. The programme, called NPOwer, will include a 24-hour toll-free helpline and provide psychological first aid to NPO leaders, staff and volunteers, many of whom are experiencing unprecedented strain and burnout caused by Covid-19.

“The pandemic has resulted in various pervasive fears and negative psychological effects on individuals, resulting in a need for more psychosocial support to affected communities. This, of course, applies not only to individuals and communities being served by NPOs,” says Dipalesa Mpye, a social investment specialist at Tshikululu Social Investments, “but also to the employees and volunteers of these organisations themselves. Our research has shown that NPOs are struggling with a myriad of issues including instability and uncertainty around financial support, challenges in retaining staff, as well as having to navigate the devastating impact of the pandemic on the communities they serve.”

Cassey Chambers, operations director at SADAG, says while many corporates have employee assistance programmes in place for their employees, and relief funding has been provided for specific responses such as food relief and health system strengthening, many NPOs have been left behind.

“Teams are overworked, and they are facing trauma and lack of resources every day. With so many pandemic-related issues, some NPOs have been forced to close their doors and stop the valuable work they have been providing when communities need it the most. NPOs have always provided help, resources and support to others, but never before has the mental health of our NPOs been prioritised,” says Cassey.

The toll-free NPOwer helpline will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year with counselling available in all 11 official languages and is now live on 0800 515 515. Messages can also be sent to a dedicated SMS line on 43010 or to [email protected]