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Mental Health Series

Promoting mental health of the judiciary employees

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We always take workplace mental health issues universally but I would like to highlight that those working in the judiciary be it, Judges, Magistrates and court clerks, have peculiar conditions. I recently presented on the matter at Lobatse Magistrate Court wellness day and will share for the benefit of others.

Individuals under the judiciary employ play a critical role in Botswana mental health system. The Master of High Court appoints a curator bonis (trustee) to look into the custody of a mentally incapacitated individual whom cannot take decisions for self.

But how do the dynamics of their work affect their mental health? How can their mental health be promoted in the workplace?Judges, Magistrates and Court clerks preside over horrific criminal trials.

During trials they may be shown graphic images of the incident whilst at the same time there is narration! As highlighted in previous articles, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may develop after hearing of a horrific accident or simply seeing images.

Various researches have indicated that many judiciary employees experience flashbacks of the incidents as they were narrated in court.Those working in courts may receive verbal onslaught from those being tried and their families.

A case in point is “Le tla immentioner” episode whereupon the Magistrate was attacked. Those experiencing this trauma may develop depression. Some may come up with maladaptive coping methods like indulging in substance use ultimately developing substance use and addiction disorders.

Judges and Magistrates are the custodians of justice and may experience stress when making judgements. They try by all means not to make erroneous judgements which exposes them to intense mental health exhaustion.

It is very important to highlight that mental health services should also be provided to them. Some of the following can be of help;Debriefing should be done after highly toxic court cases that are emotionally draining.

Health retreats should be plannedDepression and substance use screening to identify those having problems and then assist.

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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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