October as a whole is known as mental health awareness month. The 10th of October specifically is the day we remember the impact that mental illness has had on us, our loved ones and those we don’t know but may suspect may be suffering from brain diseases. On this day we The Ones who are aware and have seen the devastation that mental (brain) illness has had in our lives if unmanaged run workshops, give talks and try our level best to attract funding for this very important cause, yet silent killer pandemic.
So, what is mental Health? Mental health talks to how our brain is wired which then impacts how we think, how we feel, how we see the world and how we behave each day. How healthy our brain is or said differently our mental health also directs how we make decisions, how we cope with stress and how we relate to others in our lives.
According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), 1 in 3 South Africans has a mental illness. This translates for roughly 20 million people, a third of people in our country experiencing some form of mental illness. Mental illness occurs in all classes, all cultures and all races.
We know that 9% of all teenage deaths are due to suicide, 90% of that 9% who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness. What is worse is that 75% of people who have a serious or moderate illness will not receive any treatment. In 2017 the Psychiatry Management group reported that depression alone costs South Africa R232 billion or 5.7% of the GDP due to lost productivity either due to absence from work or attending work whilst ill.
Why don’t we know much about mental illness when it is has such a devastating effect on our country? The world over when one has a physical illness like cancer, or diabetes, society tends to be very kind to the sufferers often offering help, using caring words to describe the illness. Mental illness on the other hand has attracted very negative descriptions such as “losing your mind”; “madness” being “crazy” “looney” these negative labels have led stigmatization of people suffering from mental. Often the view has been that when you have a mental illness you either have caused it yourself, or you were badly brought up or even bewitched and many more such explanations. This type of shaming has been keen in forcing discussions on mental illness underground and it suffers being very isolated and blamed rather than supported.
But what we do know is that the ability to understand brain disorders, and the journey to being healthy emotionally can promote productivity and effectiveness at work it improves our ability to harness healthy relationships and connections which we need to survive, and it allows us to adapt to changes in our life and cope with adversity.
The Space Between us powered by Telkom BCX is bringing you the beginnings of such a journey. Whether you are feeling a little uncertain given the pandemic or any other concern you are one of the fortunate South Africans who is being given the opportunity to grow your skills to harness your mental health.
During the pandemic days have not had the same meaning as they had before, time seems to bleed from one hour to the next, there is monotony in the day this can be hard – here are five tips which you can keep in mind during this time to improve your mental well-being start changing your brain to changing your mood –
- Notice what you like more than what you don’t – for instance focus on the good rather than negative news which only serves keep your brain wired – where you bring your attention determines how you feel. This takes training.
- Disinfect your thinking – those automatic negative thoughts of sad mad nervous -write down the down then ask yourself is it true
- Get connected to positive people – this connection is amazing for your own neural pathways
- Know your purpose – seeing that your life has meaning beyond your own is possibly one of the best ways to improve your mood and mental well being
- Protect your pleasure centres in the brain, when something good happens your brain releases dopamine – but the more you only seek pleasure the more these centres are worn. So, do everything in moderation, limit over stimulation your brain with exercise, magnesium, omegas, zinc, green tea happy food foods such as pumpkin seeds and good sleep
Furthermore, you can hear more about this and get skills to cope on many more mental health topics.