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Mental Health Awareness Month – getting comfortable with our anxiety.

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The month of October has been declared Mental Health Awareness Month.

The aim is to educate both those who feel they may be suffering from mental issues, as well as educating the public as to how to tackle these issues with friends and family should there be a need.

The main goal is to reduce the stigma, and open up opportunities for discussion, and for people to reach out for help. 

As an education institution, Boston, is very much aware of mental health and has established a face to face as well as online wellness centre where advice is given through articles, and also on a personal level should the request come in.

The biggest success is if Boston, and broader communities, can get people to communicate their anxieties and worries, rather than internalise them until a breakdown occurs.

Mental health issues include depression, anxiety, substance abuse, job or family stress and gender violence.

Companies need to be involved and aware from a human resource point of view, as it directly affects productivity, which in turn directly affects the bottom line and profit through increased absenteeism, reduced productivity, and increased costs. Sadly, few South Africans seek treatment for their mental disorders.

However, fortunately, most mental health issues can be easily treated!

The pandemic has seen a large increase in the occurrence of mental health illness, both in students as well as in employees.

This is because of the heightened intensity of factors that increase anxiety and illness, including:

  • Stress
  • workload (both excessive and insufficient work)
  • lack of recognition
  • a lack of or poor interpersonal relationships caused by not socialising and/or being in the same space with the same people (family) for extended periods of time.
  • conflicting home and work demands – especially if you are now working from home.
  • Financial stress
     

The following tips are from the World Health Organisation to try and combat anxiety and stress at home :

  1. Keep informed. Follow trusted news channels, such as local and national TV and radio, and keep up-to-date with the latest news from @WHO on social media.
  2. Have a routine. Keep up with daily routines as far as possible, or make new ones.  

These include:

  • Get up and go to bed at similar times every day.
  • Keep up with personal hygiene.
  • Eat healthy meals at regular times.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Allocate time for working and time for resting.
  • Make time for doing the things you enjoy.
  • Minimize newsfeeds -Try to reduce how much you watch, read or listen to news that makes you feel anxious or distressed. Seek the latest information at specific times of the day, once or twice a day if needed. 
  • Social contact is important - If your movements are restricted, keep in regular contact with people close to you by telephone and online channels.
  • Alcohol and drug use - Limit the amount of alcohol you drink or don’t drink alcohol at all.
  • Minimise Screen time - Take breaks, whether it is the screen for work, video games, or social media .
  • Social media - Promote positive and hopeful stories, and
  • Help others - Eg: helping neighbours with food shopping.

Suntosh Pillay has referred to the pandemic as an ‘emotional tsunami’. “People’s feelings are exacerbated to the extremes at the moment especially because of the uncertainty of what’s going to happen,” he says.

In line with the recommendations of the World Health Organization for routine and structure, Boston believes that this is best done through gaining a qualification.

A qualification provides structure, discipline and routine to your days. It also importantly increases your confidence, gives you goals and motivation, and builds your CV for future job prospects.

Now is the best time to upgrade your skills through studies.  Visit www.boston.co.za 

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