Positively impacting mental health & building emotional fitness
At 5th Place we support the physical and emotional wellbeing of people by enabling them to regulate how they feel on a scale to match the size of the problem.
Regulating emotions leads to better mental health
At 5th Place we offer specialised training for individuals, groups and organisations on how to become and remain mentally healthy and emotionally fit, by teaching people how to regulate their emotions.
There are numerous studies detailing how regulating our emotions can lead to better mental health. To date many thousands of individuals from all over the globe have attested to the effectiveness of our programmes.
The size of the problem, at home
South Africa has the lowest mental health score in the world as well as the highest percentage of distressed or struggling individuals 
South Africa’s mental health system is in disarray. Historical inequalities, high unemployment rates and poverty on the one side and a shrinking economy, a collapsing infrastructure, corruption and crime on the other are a breeding ground for a ballooning mental health care crisis. Mental health conditions cost the South African economy more than 11 billion U.S. dollars a year (200 billion rand) through people missing work and presenteeism .
In 2017 there were over 17 million diagnosed anxiety disorders out of a population of nearly 58 million  and a generous statistic of 23 psychologists for every 100,000 people .
In 2021 60% of South African companies experienced an increase in disability claims for mental and behavioural medical conditions. 
The scale of the problem is such that traditional one-on-one therapy, even if there was budget, can never attend to the overwhelming need.
Setting out on a journey
Education is a high value issue for both Chantal and Matthew. Our repeated offers of therapeutic support into the under-resourced school space where we were working were welcomed but not engaged with. And so in early 2017 we set out on a journey to solve a problem, one primarily involving the rampant trauma we were witnessing in the under-resourced school environ.
These schools are at the centre of communities where most people live in extreme poverty. In 2022 around 18.2 million people in South Africa live at a poverty threshold of 1.90 U.S. dollars per day . Unemployment, physical violence, sexual abuse and neglect are realities for many.
School learners and university students from these environments suffer high levels of anxiety and stress caused by factors out of their control. They come to school in a perpetual state of fight / flight / freeze. You might already know this but the fight / flight / freeze response disconnects the brain from the ability to think and the capacity to learn is greatly diminished.
Education, widely accepted as crucial to escape the poverty cycle is negated if learners and students are in a perpetual state of fight / flight / freeze. The problem of education as we viewed it, was not so much a resource one as it was a mental health one.
In response to this mental and emotional health crisis, we set out to see if we could solve the problem, having no idea if what we wanted to do was even possible. We set ourselves three goals:
What we learnt on our journey
On our journey we learnt a great deal about emotions and how tenuous our emotional well being actually is. We learnt the importance of emotional resilience, what we term “emotional fitness”, how big the problem of mental and emotional health actually is in our country and globally and the taboo that exists around it that prevents individuals from seeking help, receiving help and feeling free to say how they are really feeling.
- “Mental State of the World - Sapien Labs.” https://sapienlabs.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Mental-State-of-the-World-Report-2021.pdf
- Magwegwe, F. (2022, March 28). “The economic cost of SA's mental health crisis”. Business Day. https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/2022-03-28-the-economic-cost-of-sas-mental-health-crisis/
- IOL. “Mental Health a Serious Issue in South Africa.” IOL, July 25, 2017. https://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/health/mental-health-a-serious-issue-in-south-africa-10400056
- Writer, Staff. “South African Companies Report Big Increase in Mental Health Issues.” https://businesstech.co.za/news/business/511288/south-african-companies-report-big-increase-in-mental-health-issues/
- Office, PsySSA. “Shortage of Psychologists Hits SA | PsySSA.” Accessed December 11, 2017. https://www.psyssa.com/shortage-of-psychologists-hits-sa/
- Galal, S. (2022, September 9). South Africa: People in extreme poverty 2016-2025. Statista. Retrieved September 16, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1263290/number-of-people-living-in-extreme-poverty-in-south-africa
- Church, Dawson, Crystal Hawk, Audrey J. Brooks, Olli Toukolehto, Maria Wren, Ingrid Dinter, and Phyllis Stein. “Psychological Trauma Symptom Improvement in Veterans Using Emotional Freedom Techniques: A Randomised Controlled Trial.” Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease 201, no. 2 (February 2013): 153–60. https://doi.org/10.1097/NMD.0b013e31827f6351