What is Mental Health?
Mental health is the well-being of one’s psychological, emotional, and social well-being. It determines how one relates to others that surround him or her, how one makes decisions and how one handles stress.
Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Childhood factors can go on to affect someone at a later stage in their lives. Mental health problems are a range of conditions that affect mood, thinking and behaviour.
The mental health of young people has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
Kinds of Mental Health Disorders
The most common mental health disorder is depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar, PSTD, dementia, and schizophrenia, to mention but a few.
Mental health disorders have become one of the leading causes of death around the world. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), suicide occurs every 40 seconds and an attempt is made every 3 seconds.
In South Africa, mental health problems have caused several deaths and have affected many, including youth. Mental health challenges have been found to be a leading factor in suicide, especially depression, followed by other factors such as alcohol and drug abuse, and others.
Statistics show that 60% of people who commit suicide are people who have a mental health disorder like depression. These numbers are intriguing and this calls for attention. A lot needs to be done to address mental health problems in our communities and a mental health challenge that is left unchecked can become complicated.
How can we fight this?
Mental health awareness is one way we can reach out to our communities, starting in schools, colleges and community centres. It is of paramount importance that each community has mental health workers, who can be trained on how to give counselling to those showing signs of mental health disorders.
Our youth are affected by different pressures, especially the COVID-19 crisis and due to these, they can succumb to mental illness. Some of the difficulties that students face that can cause mental health problems are peer pressure, bullying, discrimination, difficult backgrounds, even shortages of resources, alcohol and/or drug abuse.
Tips to help yourself or someone suffering from a mental illness
- Take care of your body – get in at least 8 hours of sleep, eat healthy, fresh foods and drink plenty of water. Also make sure to avoid alcohol and drug as this may aggravate your problems.
- Stay active – keeping active and exercising regularly can help you to be fit and also keep your mind healthy. It is also vital for you to do something you enjoy doing. This will help you to cope better with your stressors.
- Meditate – meditation helps to clear and quieten your mind. It will also help to improve your state of mind and outlook on life and to stay calm.
- Take a break – either from school or from work to help reduce stress. Dedicate a day in the week where you relax and unwind, either taking a long bath, reading or just spending time in nature.
- Be grateful – it’s always the little things that we do not notice that counts the most. Note down all the things that you are grateful for, big or small and keep on reminding yourself on what makes you happy.
- Seek help – speaking out to someone that you trust can also help reduce feelings of stress/anxiety. One is not supposed to keep things to themselves, but rather problems should be shared so that a solution can be found. As an African proverb says, “Izandla ziyagezana,” which means “one hand washes the other”. We heal when we share our problems with others. Seeking help is a sign of strength.
Remember, you have the power over your mind.
Here’s to having the #Courage2Care and the #Courage2Conquer!
By Charity Mupangani
Read our last article on our inspiring youth stories for Courage to Care Day here
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