World Mental Health Day Photo

The South-West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) joins over one hundred countries in celebrating World Mental Health Day today. The theme “Dignity in Mental Health – Psychological and Mental Health First Aid for All”is both instructive and perceptive. Persons diagnosed with mental health challenges within SWRHA’s boundaries are in receipt of a high level of inpatient and outpatient mental health care by our dedicated staff. Significant effort is also being channelled to reduce stigma and discrimination, and the integration of Mental Health into Primary Care is well on stream. Also, we continue to raise the level of awareness of mental health issues among the population through mental health education and promotion. Whereas we seek to make a difference in the lives of those we serve, it is obligatory that we attend to our overall psychological well-being. This includes the way we feel about ourselves, the quality of our relationships, our ability to manage feelings and deal with difficulties, and how much meaning and joy we derive from life. We need to invest in self-care. There are a whole range of recommendations for self-care in the public domain and we are aware of most, but the commitment has to be made to implement same. We must value ourselves, be consistent with an exercise programme, practise relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, eat nutritious meals, get enough rest, enjoy the beauty of nature or art, set realistic goals, expand our social network, break the monotony and accept who we are. Our investment in self-care must be combined with being alert to the “red flags” such as sleeping difficulties, feeling down, hopeless, or helpless most of the time, negative coping strategies and self-destructive thoughts. We can ask for assistance if we feel overwhelmed by the challenges of life. SWRHA has allotted in-house services to respond to concerns of staff and the services of our Psychiatrists, Social Workers and Psychologists are readily available, if perchance your equilibrium is disturbed. Help is available for restoration to adaptive functioning. The projection that one in four persons in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives and the rise of mental disorders in the disease burden are major apprehensions, but with a cadre of skilled and unswerving professionals attached to our Mental Health Services in Psychiatry, we will facilitate the process of mitigating these ominous forecasts. I wish to commend staff who have been delivering mental health care of high quality to our population in spite of constraints.