As South Africa is currently in a three-week nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many people are experiencing heightened feelings of uncertainty, unrest and loneliness.
“While these feelings are completely understandable, given the unprecedented nature of the situation, it is important for everybody – especially those who are predisposed to mental health conditions – to learn how to cope and manage any added stress being experienced,” said Paul Miller, CEO of Cipla Medpro. South Africans should not only look after their own mental health during the lockdown, but also check in to ensure that family and friends are doing the same, he encouraged.
Highlighting the highly stressful nature of the healthcare profession during this time, Miller notes that “caring for our carers” is more important than ever. “Healthcare professionals are at the frontline of tackling this pandemic, and in a country where there’s a shortage of medical professionals and a massive diseases burden, they can also become overwhelmed and stressed or experience burnout.”
“These are unprecedented times, and everybody is going to react in different ways. It’s important for people who may be feeling more stressed, depressed or anxious than usual, to know that there are ways to help manage this, and people to turn to for support.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also highlighted the importance of encouraging mental and psychological well-being during the COVID-19 outbreak, stressing “this is not going to be a sprint, but a marathon”.
Cipla’s mental health partner, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), has a plethora of resources across various channels available to help people cope with mental health pressures during lockdown. Here are some helpful tips from SADAG to reduce stress during the lockdown:
1. Maintain a daily routine.
2. Restrict media and social media coverage to prevent it from becoming too overwhelming. Only obtain info from credible news sources.
3. Acknowledge your feelings and focus on things you can control.
4. Find things to keep you busy (whether it’s constructive or creative) to help lift your mood.
5. Stay connected with your loved ones via technology.
6. If you’re on medication, remember to take it as prescribed.
Whether you are helping a friend, or need help yourself, you can always call the Cipla SADAG 24-hour mental health helpline on 0800 456 789 or via WhatsApp on 076 882 2775 between 9am – 5pm.