Let's talk mental health

Let's talk mental health
Know the signs and symptoms of mental illness
We help you spot the red flags that could signal a possible mental health condition.
Dr Avron Urison
Dr Avron Urison - CEO: HealthCare Plan
27 September 2021 | 4 minute read
Article Themes website October 20212

The very real and important issue of mental health

The World Health Organization (WHO) stress that mental health is more than just the absence of mental health disorders but rather actively looking after one's wellness and happiness.

What is mental health?

Mental health is our emotional, social and psychological wellbeing – affecting every area of our lives; how we feel, think and behave. Our mental health is vital at every stage of our lives.

Why is mental health important?

Looking after our mental health allows us to cope with life's stressors, have good meaningful relationships and work productively, to name a few things. Mental health also affects our physical health – putting one at risk of heart disease or a stroke.

Mental health disorders

In some cases, one is born with a mental health disorder, while in other cases, they result from environmental factors.

Different factors contributing to mental illness:

  • Biological factors: mental illness is more common in those whose blood relatives who may also have a mental illness - specific genes will increase your risk
  • Environmental: stressors like trauma and abuse
  • Brain chemistry: impairment of neurotransmitters in the brain

Signs and symptoms of a disorder

  • A change in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Spending more time alone – withdrawing from people
  • Low or no energy
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Severe mood swings – extreme highs and lows
  • Not being able to perform daily tasks
  • Usually confused, angry, forgetful, upset, scared or worried
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or others
  • Detachment from reality, paranoia or hallucinations

According to recent stats released by the South Africa Depression and Anxiety Group, one in six South African's suffers from anxiety, depression or substance abuse problems.

What are the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health?

A study conducted by the Human Research Council in 2020 reported that 33% of South Africans were depressed, 45% fearful, and 29% were experiencing loneliness. When COVID-19 took hold almost two years ago, we were thrown into lives we could never have imagined and the impact has been devastating in so many ways, especially on our mental health. We were and still are living with uncertainty regarding our economy while our own financial stability is threatened. We live in fear of losing our jobs, fear of another wave, fear of getting COVID-19 and of death (ourselves and our loved ones). Full lockdown and later limitations on our movements have isolated us from our support systems and exacerbated the problem as our usual ways of dealing with stress were and, in some ways, are still no longer an option. It is more important than ever to look after our mental health.

How to look after and improve your mental health?

You need to consciously take the necessary steps to look after your mental wellbeing with or without a disorder. Seek help when and if needed. Get the sleep you need. Eat healthily, exercise regularly and try to maintain a productive schedule. Find time to relax. You might benefit from meditation and mindfulness. It is essential to surround yourself with a strong support system, the friends and family who are there no matter what. When the option to see these people is not possible, try to call them often to stay connected.

Helping a loved one

If you know someone exhibiting these symptoms, have an open and honest conversation with them about your concerns. Offer them support and encourage them to get help. If they are a danger to themselves or others, take them to a hospital or call for emergency help.

Mental health self-assessment

Are you unsure as to whether or not you need help? Or maybe you just want to check in with

yourself. Take Psychology Today's mental health assessment and see where you are at.

For help

Contact Lifeline on 0861 322 322.

Contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group on 0800 567 567.

With Legal&Tax you’re not alone

If you are struggling with your mental health and need someone to talk to, our Trauma Asist benefit will provide you unlimited telephonic counselling as well as face to face consultations with a qualified psychologist. If you have any questions or need a friendly voice, we are always here.

Contact us for more information

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1.
Look out for the SMS you will receive when you join.
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In an emergency, press the allocated button on your phone, and a crisis manager will call you within 30 seconds.
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