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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

INTERNATIONAL NURSES DAY: REFLECTING ON THE MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGES OF NURSES

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Today’s reflection will be on the Nurses’’ day that was celebrated worldwide on the 12th of May. The day is celebrated in remembrance of the birth Florence Nightingale who is the pioneer of modern day professional nursing. The theme for this year is “Nurses: A voice to lead-Health for All.”

Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system as in every health care facility they are there to provide care. They are the single largest group of professionals in the clinical field.
The crux of the discussion is that professional nurses experience burnout and workplace stress because of the nature of the demands of the nursing job. These emanate from working long hours, emotional exhaustion from dealing with vulnerable and ailing clientele, experience of traumatic events, fulfilment of high professional and public expectations and low reward outcomes for their efforts.

The nurses’ already volatile ordeal is further compounded by incidences of nurses being assaulted, emotionally abused, physically abused, sexually assaulted and cyber bullied by the same individuals that they seek to render care for.

The above highlighted challenges can be emotionally draining to the nurses and even facilitate development of mental health problems if they are not attended to promptly. This has been affirmed by various studies.

A review paper done by Vasconcelos and others in 2016 highlighted that the risk of exposure to HIV and poor relationships with administrators as other associated factors that facilitated development of mental disorders.

The review found the following as affecting most of our nurses; post-traumatic stress disorder, acute stress reaction, generalised anxiety disorder, depression and over indulgence in substances.
Nursing managers, the patients as well members of the community need to play a pivotal role in ensuring protective factors towards nurses’ mental health are availed.

The good thing is that this can be ensured by helping nurse build resilience, having debriefing sessions for nurses working in trauma care and having measures like retreats to name but a few. Nurses need to be healthy for them to be custodians for “health for all”.

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Mental Health Series

WHAT WE EAT CAN AFFECT OUR MENTAL HEALTH

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I had a chat with friend over the weekend and he felt that dieticians placed at psychiatric hospitals are misplaced. The basis of today discussion will be herein a response to this.

Nutrition does play a critical role in mental health hence the need for dieticians to be involved in this field as it is the case now. As noted by the research team led by Joseph Firth, “nutritional deficiencies resulting from insufficient intake of nutrients critical to human health are a risk factor for psychiatric and mental disorders.”

Our brains needs food for them to function optimally. Concentration, memory, analysing to name but a few can all be attained by a “well fed brain.” If the brain is deprived of nutrients, it can incur oxidative stress which results in brain cell damage. Brain cells are irreplaceable and their damage facilitates the development of some mental disorders Experience of mental health problems may also be associated with poorer diet and physical health.

Poor nutrition has been implicated in the onset of schizophrenia by various research findings. Studies on schizophrenia patients indicated that the nutrients Zinc and Selenium were found to be compromised whilst in others there was insufficient Vitamin D deficiency.

Other research conducted has determined that the following supplements: zinc, magnesium, omega 3, and vitamins B and D3 are essential in elevating people’s mood, relieving anxiety and depression. Insufficient Omega-3 fatty acids has additionally been linked to low mood, poor concentration, cognitive decline and poor comprehension.

It is clear from the discussion that good nutrition is critical for our mental health and that dieticians are relevant in mental health. An affordable balanced diet which contains the essential nutrients is necessary to be taken to ensure that mental health is uplifted. Nutrition alone cannot ensure our mental but it has a significant adjunctive role. As posited by local author Lindo Morolong, “what you feed your body shapes your health.”

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