Learning to Prioritise Our Mental Health

12th October 2023

UKZN Extended Learning

– by Ayanda Radebe

World Mental Health Day is acknowledged yearly on the 10th of October; however, in South Africa, the month of October has been declared as ‘Mental Health Awareness Month’. During October, awareness is raised on mental health issues to support those suffering from mental illnesses. The World Health Organization states that mental health is a fundamental human right. Everyone, whoever and wherever they are, has a right to the highest attainable standard of mental health. This includes the right to be protected from mental health risks; the right to available, accessible, acceptable, and good quality care; and the right to liberty, independence and inclusion in the community.

In previous years, the conversation of mental health awareness has accelerated significant discussions, bringing attention to addressing this highly overlooked aspect of our well-being. Creating awareness has helped individuals understand the roots of the problem and address various misconceptions that linger around it, as mental health is not just limited to mental illnesses but also encompasses psychological, social and emotional well-being. Good mental health is vital to our overall health and well-being as it impacts our daily lives and how we connect with others.

Some of the tips for coping with mental illnesses:

  • Self-care routines (which have gained significant momentum, especially amongst individuals who utilise social media) include engaging in activities that promote your overall well-being
  • Stress management techniques to foster healthy relationships
  • Seeking professional help from therapists, counsellors or psychiatrists
  • Connecting with people that provide a sense of comfort and belonging for you
  • Developing emotional coping mechanisms to manage your emotions, etc.

Although everyone’s mental health journey is unique, everyone must find a coping mechanism that best works for them. Mental Health Awareness Month is a reminder to prioritise our mental well-being and extend support to those who may be struggling because we create a mentally healthy society by fostering an environment that encourages such.