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Mental Health Series

‘A resource letter to a caregiver’

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In view of this year Mental Health Day theme “ Young People and Mental health in a changing world”, one reader appealed to me to talk to parents whom have youthful children diagnosed with mental illness.

Dear Parents;
I must applaud you for acknowledging that indeed there is an issue to be addressed. Indeed the caregiving role comes with many challenges that include neglect of own needs as well stigma and discrimination meted out by our society.

Mental illnesses can affect anyone in our society; including youth. According to the World Health Organisation, 10-20% of children and adolescents experience mental disorders. Neuropsychiatric disorders are seen as the leading cause of disability in the young generation. Youth are not immune from mental illnesses!

Do not at all blame yourself for the situation your child is facing. It is scientifically proven that mental illnesses are caused by a combination of factors that include environmental and genetics. There are a lot of challenges faced by the youth that facilitate the development of mental illness and/or problems.

In spite of all this, there should be concerted focus on family. A family is a system and efforts should be made to allow interconnectedness that has often taken the family forward. To ensure a productivity on the side of patient, remove restrictions and allow utmost interactions with others socially.

Always give support to your child to take medication. Medication helps a lot in stabilising patient allowing for optimal functioning. Taking medications also helps mitigate against the development of chronicity of illness.

You are bound to hear conspiracy theories and myths surrounding the child illness. Inform yourself and also seek information from mental health professionals and refrain from information that can compound the problem even further.

Go for time out and debriefing sessions to recharge batteries of care giving. Individual counselling can also help if overwhelmed by the situation to the extent of affecting daily functioning.
As posited by Robert Ingersoll, “we rise by lifting others.” Thank you.

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Mental Health Series

LET’S PRIORITISE MENTAL HEALTH IN 2019

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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

THE MENTAL HEALTH SERIES

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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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