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Mental health is not merely about the absence of mental illness, but rather the presence of mental health and wellbeing. Mental health is about how you feel about yourself, how you relate to others and
how you deal with the opportunities, difficulties and challenges of everyday life.

HOW CAN I OPTIMISE AND MAINTAIN MY SENSE OF MENTAL WELLBEING? Mental Health is about finding a balance between dealing with the difficulties in life and using the opportunities life presents for further development. Get to know your Strengths (work at growing these) and Vulnerabilities ( work at overcoming or getting support for these) and learn to recognize when you are not coping and at risk for unhealthy stress. COPING WITH STRESS We may not feel mentally healthy or positive about life all the time. Generally, our own strengths or resilience, with support from others, can assist us to bounce back from a crisis or stressful situation during which we are not feeling well balanced in our lives. Some stress can be challenging and enjoyable (a new job, different responsibilities). We need to guard against allowing our stress levels to reach the point where we are longer coping with daily lives

The Stress Test !
Test your level of stress. Read through the questions below. For each time you answer “yes”, put a tick ( ) in the box. Do you feel tired all the time? _____________ Do you find it difficult to sleep _____________ _____________ Do you suffer from headaches, ulcers or indigestion? Do you find it difficult to concentrate? _____________ _____________ Do you struggle to relax? _ Have you lost interest in sex? _____________ Have you lost interest in hobbies and other activities which you enjoyed?___ Have you lost your appetite or are you eating more than usual? _______ Are you always late for work? _____________ Do you avoid your colleagues? _____________ Do you feel angry, irritable or “down in the dumps”? _____________ Do you bring your work problems home with you at night and over weekends? Are you making rash impulsive decisions? _______________________ _______________________ Do you find it difficult to make decisions?

If you recognise yourself in the Stress Test, you may be suffering from job stress. Most of us feel this way for brief periods at some point in our lives. While there are no easy and quick fixes to some of the problems we have, it is best to take steps to reduce stress at work to regain or protect your mental health. To take charge of the situation you can: Reset your priorities, where possible: Focus on the important things. Be realistic: Divide projects into manageable tasks, Recognise what you can/cant do. : Be honest with your colleagues/boss: Suggest practical improvements to the situation. Take care of your physical, mental and personal life: Don’t neglect friends and family. Build in time to relax: Learn to say “no” Lose the guilt about relaxation time. Get support: Identify people with whom you can share problem and work out solutions.


An important part of maintaining your mental health at home and work is to recognise when you have or may be at risk to develop mental health problems. Information, and if necessary, assessment and
advice about treatment may be obtained from your local community health centre, GP or occupational health nurse or clinic. Private practitioners such as psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and clinical social workers may also be of assistance.

WHAT IS A MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEM OR MENTAL ILLNESS? Mental health problems span a wide range of conditions, from milder conditions that could benefit from

easily attainable changes in lifestyle and stress levels to more severe conditions which may require hospitalisation and ongoing regular treatment to enable you to manage every day life at home and at work. Some conditions are more likely to appear at specific periods, for example post-natal depression in new mothers, mental deterioration (Dementia) in the elderly. Others may appear at any phase of life.

Below is a list of some signs and symptoms in 3 categories within the wide range of possible mental health problems we may experience, to help you do a spot mental health problem check! Where these symptoms or other regular patterns of relating or behaving interfere with your performance at work or study and disrupt your and your loved one’s family and social life, it is possible that you have a mental health problem that requires attention.

Depression Do you ..... ...Constantly feel sad or irritable or both (snappy or tearful)? ...Lack interest or pleasure in activites you used to enjoy? ...Feel helpless, hopeless guilty and worthless? ... have poor concentration and memory, …have difficulty making decisions? ...think about death or suicide? Feel tired and lack energy? Have weight gain or loss(no appitite or eating compulsively)? Have sleep problems (too much or too little), not feel rested? ...have agitated or slowed activity levels(time passes too quickly)?

Anxiety Do you ...experience feelings of panic, tension or excessive worry? ...have fears of dying or losing control? ...fear not being able to escape from places, and avoid leaving familiar places? ...have feelings of unreality? ...fear and avoid social situations? ...become light-headed, breathless or dizzy? ... have stomach pains, headaches muscle tension or feelings of numbness or tingling?...

Psychosis Are there times when ... ...you hear voices, see images, feel or smell things which others do not seem to see? ...your head feels empty of thought, your thoughts seem vague and unrelated and difficult to organise? ...you have strong beliefs which others cant understand, for example, others want to harm you, or you have special powers and knowledge ...you feel others can ‘read your thoughts or you can read theirs. ...your emotional tone becomes ‘flat’’ or odd to others ...your ability to manage daily personal hygiene and tasks deteriorates.

GETTING HELP FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEM People may avoid dealing with their mental health problem or emotional difficulties by “self medicating”: They may do this by excessive use of over the counter or prescribed medication, alcohol or other drugs. While this may provide temporary relief from symptoms, it can also lead to problems of addiction without addressing the underlying problem. You may need help to stop if you have already started this practice. People with mental health problems may not seek seeking the help they need, because of beliefs that mental illness is a sign of personal weakness, laziness, social unacceptability or “wishful thinking” The facts are clear: Mental illness, like physical illnesses, can affect anyone. Mental health problems are painful and can hurt as much as a physical injury, and it is best to obtain help early to promote the fullest possible recovery. The sooner you obtain help, the sooner you may feel better. The first step to obtaining help is to accept that getting help is the right thing to do! Help or advice on where to go for your particular mental health problems may be obtained from your SCHOOL OR RELIGIOUS COUNSELLOR LOCAL DOCTOR LOCAL COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTRE OR MOBILE CLINIC WORKERS CLINIC OR HEALTH SISTER SOCIAL WORKERS, PSYCHOLOGISTS, PSYCHIATRISTS AND OTHER HEALTH PROFESSIONALS. The mental directory of services can be consulted for other centers offering assistance

You may also wish to call a local Hotline to discuss this problem. HOTLINES Anxiety and Depression Helpline Aidsline Child Line Life Line Alcoholics Anonymous Narcotics Anonymous HEAL (Halt Elder Abuse Line) RESOURCE INFORMATION SA Federation for Mental Health Private Bag X46 BRAAMFONTEIN 2017 TEL: (011) 242 9600 0800 11 9283 0800 01 2322 0800 05 5555 (021) 461 1111/4 (021) 24 7559 (021) 797 1400 (021) 461 1001

Cape Mental Health Society Ivy Street OBSERVATORY 7700 TEL: 447 9040

Western Cape Forum for Mental Handicap Tel: (021) 510 4686

Mental Health Information Centre P.O.Box 19063 TYGERBERG 7505 Department of Psychiatry University of Stellenbosch TYGERBERG

TEL; (021) 938 9229 TOLL FREE NUMBER:

0800 600 411

The Child Care Information Centre (CCIC) Maternal and Child Health Information and Resource Centre (MCHIRC) The Child Health Unit RXH Rondebosch Mowbray Children’s’ Centre 46 Sawkins Road RONDEBOSCH 7700 Tel: (021) 685 4103

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