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Mental Health Series




In a recent engagement, an issue was brought up in reference to many in the 40s whom are behaving somewhat abnormally. One cited example was the one of a 42 year old whom suddenly became fashion conscious going along with the current trends and clubbing endlessly!

Many were of the view that such individuals should be classified as having a mental health disorder whilst others were of the view that it is inconsequential and it is only people putting themselves under pressure with unachievable targets.

The sudden behaviour and habit change can be alluded to the phenomena “midlife crisis.” It is life transition stage occurring at around the ages of 40 which in women is often linked to menopause. During this phase you practically have no one to mentor or coach you and everything is upon you.

Constant regret and feelings of failure take centre stage as many will look at the prospects of retiring soon yet have nothing to show for many years worked! It is characterised by changing your entire life in a haste trying to compensate for the past failures.

Individuals experience a decline in career prospects, have self-doubt over the future, have increased physical problems and have increased fear of aging (some literally dye hair). Other manifestation may include the following;

Job changes(venturing into a different job altogether)
Poor interpersonal relations
Marital problems
Adoption of strange lifestyle

The consequence of this may result in excessive use of alcohol and other substances. There may be also incidences of anxiety and depression as a result of this transition.

Whilst this is not a mental disorder per se, psychological counselling maybe of help to those whom may be overwhelmed by the transition especially those with depression and abusing substances.

What is paramount though is that we should all be content with what we have and have achieved, also have realistic set targets for the future. Age should never determine success or failure!

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Mental Health Series




It’s a new year, the buzzing word is “goledzwa” or “ngwaga o mosha”. This period has a bearing on people’s mental health in various ways. Some are gearing up for the year ahead whilst others are stuck in the disappointments of the previous years. The two situations inter alia poses direct consequences for mental health.

Those bracing gigantically for the New Year often set themselves for certain accomplishments. Setting resolutions is a welcome phenomenon but the crux of the matter is that they should be realistic and attainable. The problem comes about when we are unable to meet such expectations as we may start self-loathing about the failures. This often is a precursor to development of most mental health problems especially when the failure is not addressed effectively. As summed up by Andrew Carnegie, “if you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.”

It is quite critical for us not to wallow in the disappointments of the previous year as we surge into 2019. Disappointments harbours sadness, anger, anxiety and resentment which are cardinal features of most mental health problems. Depression and suicides are problems that most often than not are linked to failure to deal effectively with disappointments and failures. A good lesson can be of Nelson Mandela’s life in relation to prison sentence. Mandla Langa wrote about Mandela that; “prison, a place of punishment, instead became a place where he was able to find himself.

A place where he could think, indulging in the one thing that gave him a sense of self.” Mandela displayed immense fortitude; we can all borrow a leaf and make the best out of our circumstances and effectively deal with adversity.

Let us convey optimism in all aspects of life. We can continue with exercise, good adequate nutrition, self-love and financial management as those are some of the basic foundations for positive mental health. There is no health without mental health thus I implore everyone to prioritise mental health in 2019!

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Mental Health Series




It’s the holiday season all over again. It’s all glitz and glamour but not for those diagnosed with mental and addiction disorders in that at this point in time they may likely get relapses.

A relapse is a state whereby individuals experience a setback of reoccurrence of symptoms after they have been well managed for some time. Individuals diagnosed with mental illness must not feel bad about relapsing as it happens with many of the chronic illnesses. People diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension and asthma consistently relapse but there is never a point wherein they are castigated for that!

The relapses are often facilitated by the following;
Non-compliance to treatment
Hiding the diagnosis from family members because of their over judgemental and denialism attitude
Non-acceptance by family members
Family members wanting to go for holiday and rooting for unjustified admissions for patients
Stigmatising tendencies from care givers and community members
Stress related to finances

In order to avoid relapses a lot should be done and all should play a role. Early signs of an impending relapse should be addressed promptly by going to a mental health professional for assessment and management. It is essential that treatment be taken as ordered at all times and individuals should ensure they have enough supply for the holiday period. Family members should play an active supportive role to avoid relapses and be cognisant of the fact that relapses are not “self-inflicted” and can occur even when taking treatment properly.

It is important for those diagnosed with addiction disorders to be wary of association especially with those they used drugs with, lest they hoodwink them into using substances again. It also important to avoid places where drugs are easily available as that could be tempting. Lastly those recovering from addiction disorders should know their “triggers” and how to deal with cravings especially since during the holiday season plenty of substances are “readily” available.

“The Mental Health Series” wishes all the readers a mentally healthy and a prosperous holiday period! Thank you for the interaction and support.

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