Note on Mental Health: Understanding and Nurturing Wellbeing

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Known as the state of mental wellbeing that helps us cope with everyday life stressors, mental health occurs within a few aspects that make up a human being. This spectrum is made of our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing, our ability to influence and be influenced, how we perceive life and the way we behave. Mental health looks different to each unique individual and it is more than just the absence of mental disorders. In some cases, we may find our mental health impaired when certain conditions make it hard for us to cope. This may lead to mental issues such as depression, anxiety disorder, personality disorder, eating disorder, and so forth. Here’s an overview of the concept of mental health, the causes of mental disorders and solutions that may help manage our mental health.

What Mental Health Is Not

While the term ‘mental health’ may refer to the absence of mental illnesses, we need to keep in mind that the ways in which people can be mentally healthy may vary from person to person. This means that a person who has not been diagnosed with any mental disorder — that is, someone who is mentally healthy — may still experience periods of poor mental health the same way as people who have been diagnosed with mental disorders. They may still experience periods of physical, social and mental wellbeing. So mental health is not just the absence of mental illnesses.

Types of Mental Health Disorders and Their Causes

Mental disorders may be persistent, relapsing, may improve or occur as single episodes. Most importantly, mental disorders require a medical diagnosis. The most common ones are: 

  1. Anxiety Disorder – this is characterised by feelings of intense worry and fear strong enough to hinder our daily activities.
  2. Depression – this refers to a mood disorder with constant feelings of severe sadness and loss of interest in the things we used to enjoy.
  3. Bipolar – often confused with depression, bipolar is a disorder that is characterised by extreme mood swings including both emotional highs and lows.
  4. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – a disorder that occurs after a person has experienced severely terrifying and traumatic events.

There are several causes of mental disorders. These factors include but are not limited to unfavourable past experiences, chronic illnesses, childhood trauma and biological factors.

How to Manage Your Mental Health

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The state of our mental wellbeing can change over time and thus needs to be effectively managed. Here are some tips that can help us maintain a good mental wellbeing:  

  • Talk to a trusted friend/family member
  • Exercise regularly
  • Set boundaries
  • Take some time off
  • Practice mindfulness and gratitude
  • Get enough sleep

South African Mental Health Resources

Struggling with mental illnesses may hinder a person’s ability to do regular activities. However, with the right help and support, they will still be able to enjoy life. It is encouraged to reach out to our loved ones when we’re struggling. Should you need further support, see the contacts below:

  • LifeLine: 086 132 2322 (toll free-24 hours)
  • SADAG: 0800 567 567 (toll-free 8 am-8 pm)
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0800 567 567 (toll-free 8 am-8 pm) /SMS Helpline: 31393
  • Substance Abuse Helpline: 0800 121314 (toll-free 24 hours)
  • A government ambulance/ ER24: 10177 / 084 124 or 8110 (at own cost)

Mental illnesses have become so common in both men and women of all ages. So why then is it still taboo to acknowledge and talk about our mental struggles? We need to come together to dismantle the stigma surrounding mental health. Let us raise awareness, promote understanding and offer support to those struggling. It is also important to remember to seek professional help when necessary. It is okay not to be okay!

Mmabatho Molokomme

Mmabatho Molokomme thrives as a Marketing Coordinator, hailing from Polokwane. Beyond her professional pursuits, she is a writer and fervently devoted to promoting mental health awareness, recognising its importance role in overall wellbeing. With her resilience and a compassionate heart, she aims to bridge the gap between marketing prowess and mental wellness, leaving a mark on both industries.

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