World Mental Health Day Message

Posted on October 11, 2020

The theme Mental Health for All. Greater Investment – Greater Access. Everyone, everywhere… is
most timely for World Mental Health Day 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought great
distractions and massive challenges around the world. Uncertainty and major changes to the way we
live our lives are having a considerable impact on our mental health. The simple act of asking a loved
one “How are you?” is no longer underestimated. In some ways, COVID-19 has broken barriers and
created more awareness on mental health, and we must ensure that these conversations continue in
the post-pandemic “new normal”.

It is vitally important that investment in mental health should go beyond the mental health
community. The focus should be on how society invest in time and compassion in addressing mental
health issues. Everyone is called to take mental health seriously and guard our own and others’
mental health.

Tips on how we can invest in mental health:

Firstly, we can learn to have empathy for those suffering as well as their families. We can also improve
our mental health literacy as the spectrum is wide, with stark differences between mental health
issues and illnesses.

Secondly, we can uphold the basics of human interaction - emotional connection, face-to-face
communication, kindness, understanding and thoughtfulness - to nurture mental resilience for those
who need it most.

Thirdly, we can be mindful of the important role that communities play in fostering a sense of care
and togetherness. By doing our part as members in society, we will raise awareness on mental health
and break its stigmatisation.

Fourthly, be honest with yourself if you feel you are not coping and ask for help/support. Contact
South African Depression Anxiety Group (SADAG) mental health help line (0800 456 789), Lifeline
(0800 150 150) and the SA Federation for Mental Health (0800 121 314) all have helplines to call for

As I conclude, I will end off with a quote by Fred Rogers. “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and
anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they
become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” Your mental health is in your hands. Please
take care.

- Author Dr NJ Bila (Senior Lecturer: Department of Social Work and Criminology)

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