World Mental Health Day: Safeguarding Social Inclusion

10th October 2022

UKZN Extended Learning

– by Nkosingiphile Ntshangase

Mental health problems affect so many people around the world. Unfortunately, not many people know about mental health issues and the importance of overall well-being. This year’s theme for World Mental Health Day is: “Making Mental Health and well-being for all a global priority”. Many people worldwide cannot balance their mental health, mainly due to the lack of access to resources and support.

In recent times, with all the transitions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping track of and sticking to one’s priorities can be a bit overwhelming. It is challenging for some to remain positive during unexpected uncertainty and change. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many were trying to find their feet and adapt to the changing ways of living and working. In any case, we have ushered in an entirely new era of living. Taking care of our mental health is imperative, and that can never be overstated.

Many people have found adjusting to COVID-19 and remote or hybrid working difficult, and many have suffered to the extent of short time and even job loss. According to the World Health Organisation, COVID-19 contributed to mental health issues:

“Plenty of us became more anxious; but for some COVID-19 has sparked or amplified much more serious mental health problems. A great number of people have reported psychological distress and symptoms of depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress.”

This increase in mental health problems results from the sudden drastic transition of society, from engaging with many people daily to absolute isolation due to pandemic restrictions. It took a significant mental toll on many globally. However, this disruption has also presented an opportunity to reimagine the way of work and find a better life balance amidst it all.

The face of mental health has significantly shifted in the last couple of years. It is days like World Mental Health Day that help destigmatise and open the platform for more people to become aware of the importance of mental health and become more educated regarding it. We are currently experiencing the ramifications of what is believed to be the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is still an opportunity to reconnect and revive our efforts to improve mental health. Seeking mental health care can be a daunting task that triggers a sense of anxiety in many. However, making the first move towards it is a step in the right direction.

Today, social inclusion is still hampered by prejudice and discrimination. However, this does not affect or diminish the importance of still fighting for the cause. Under the conditions many are still living through as a result of the pandemic, mental health should not be considered a luxury, but a necessity.

Here are some preventative mental health measures that are most effective to kick-start your mental health journey: 

In an ideal world, we would live in a society where everyone has the same chance to enjoy mental health and exercise their human rights by having reasonable access to mental health care and resources that cater to their needs. This is an ongoing issue that can be significantly reduced if social inclusion is made a priority in the foundation of building a happier and healthier society.

If you are suffering from mental health issues and wish to be directed in receiving the appropriate assistance, kindly find the South African Depression & Anxiety Group (SADAG) helpline details below:

T: 0800 567 567