Your mental health matters

Fear and anxiety have gripped the globe in the past 19 months as COVID-19 took a toll on life, economies and society at large. The pandemic affected our lives in ways we could’ve never imagined, not only did it impact our finances, but it has taken a toll on some people's mental health too.

The World Health Organisation defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or 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 or his community.”

Everyone must try to cope with stress at some point in time.  A certain amount of stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but too much stress can overwhelm a person’s ability to cope. In the long term it becomes harmful to our physical and mental health, sometimes reaching a point where our mood, thinking and behaviour is affected.

Depression and anxiety are common mental disorder that can be triggered, among other things, by chronic stress that endures over a long period. Severe stress, caused by negative life events, such as a divorce or financial loss, or loss of loved ones during the pandemic, puts the psyche out of balance, therefore it’s vital that stress is managed properly. Already, one in three South Africans suffers from depression and rates are climbing.

As we commemorate World Mental Health Month, we are urging you to put yourself first and practise self-care. If you are worried or wondering about your mental health or think you are at risk of developing a mental health disorder, here are some common warning signs you should look out for:

Early Warning Signs

Dr Tamsyn Nash, a Counselling Psychologist at Witkoppen Health and Welfare Centre says that experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviours can indicate a problem:

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Pulling away from people
  • Having low or no energy
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters
  • Having unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends
  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others

If you’re feeling one or more of the symptoms mentioned above, you may need to seek professional help. But what if you can’t afford it?

Here few techniques you could try:

  • If you feel yourself sinking, give yourself time to just be.  Give yourself one day to just feel whatever you are feeling. It's okay, we're all human. Negative emotions are valid.
  • Relaxation exercises such as breathing and meditation can be helpful for coping with anxiety.
  • Exercising can help lighten up your mood, try jogging or walking around the block.
  • Talk to someone you can trust. Talking about your feelings within a safe space with someone who’s non-judgemental allows you to express what you feel instead of ignoring or suppressing it.
  • Say NO more often. Learning the art of saying "no"  identifying and expressing your needs is helpful, especially when your anxiety stems from taking on more than you can handle.

Mental health is as important as physical health. Mental illness should be taken seriously and not to be ignored. Take care, watch for the signs.

Your wellbeing is important!

Here are a few helpful numbers you can contact should you need to:

Mental Healthcare for All: Let’s make it a reality

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