Mental health issues have affected many South Africans in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many people have lost their jobs and some businesses have closed down. Mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression, have worsened this year. During the lockdown, many South Africans suffered from stress. Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the demands of life.
Everyone reacts differently to life problems and it is normal to feel stressed and worry during a crisis. Mental health should have the same priority as physical health since it affects everyone.
According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), they have been receiving more calls since the start of lockdown from people feeling anxious, lonely, worried and depressed. Many callers are stressed about a combination of issues including the spread of COVID-19, finances, relationship problems, job security, grief, gender-based violence and trauma.
SADAG says it has received 55 000 calls to the suicide helpline since January 2020, with many people not aware of how or where they can receive help. Besides SADAG, here are a few tips that can help build good mental health.
Tips on how to build good mental health:
1. Take care of your body: Our bodies and our minds are connected. When you take care of your body, you also need to take care of your mind. Exercising and eating healthily is one of the most effective treatments for depression and anxiety. Get enough sleep as sleeping has a huge effect on mental health.
2. Practice healthy thinking: Good mental health does not mean that we only have happy thoughts. Sad or upsetting things are part of life. Problems are also part of life. Good mental health means examining the situation and solving problems. For example, being thankful for the good things in your life.
3. Slow down: We all need to take time to slow down and relax. It is a big part of managing stress. For example, you can do yoga for meditation as it creates mental clarity and calmness.
4. Have fun: Doing things we enjoy is good for our mental health, for example reading books or writing a journal about how you feel. It helps us feel refreshed and good about ourselves. Then it is easier to cope with stress and other mental health problems.
5. Reach out: The people in our lives play a big part in our mental health. We help each other out, share the good times and learn from each other. Staying connected with friends and family can help to reduce stress.
People should seek help immediately when they are not feeling well mentally that will help to reduce the high numbers of suicide and mental health issues. Sometimes ignoring mental health problems will worsen the symptoms.
Mental health is not a personal choice, so it is important that as a society we ensure that mental health receives the attention it deserves as a health issue.
If you are not comfortable reaching out to a family member or friend to talk about your mental health issues, you can call the South African Depression and Anxiety Group on 011 262 6396/0800 12 13 14.