Mental Health is as important as physical health

Dress well, watch your weight, do your hair. We’re so focused on our physical bodies as humans.

But with 1 in 6 South Africans suffering from anxiety, depression or substance-use problems (according to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group SADAG), it’s high time we acknowledged that our mental and physical health are inextricably linked.

What exactly is Mental Health?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Good mental health means that we can reach our full potential, work productively and make meaningful contributions to our communities. For these reasons, mental health is important at every stage of our lives, from childhood and adolescence through to adulthood.

Early warning signs

It’s clear that if we don’t take care of our mental wellbeing, our physical wellbeing will suffer. But how do we know that our mental health is under strain?

Here are some early warning signs to look out for, in yourself or in family members, colleagues or friends:

  • Sleep or appetite changes:

Are you unable to sleep, or so exhausted that you can’t get out of bed? Have you completely gone off food, or can’t stop eating?

  • Mood changes:

Do you swing wildly from feeling ecstatic to a deep dark sadness?

  • Withdrawal /apathy /loss of initiative: 

Are there things you typically enjoyed doing that you now don’t care about?
This could be your work, your hobbies, or even sport. Have you stopped socialising all together?

  • Drop-in overall functioning: 

Are you performing worse than in the past? Perhaps there are tasks you used to find relatively easy, and they now seem impossible to complete?

  • Difficulty with concentration, memory or logical thought: 

Maybe you can’t focus or remember facts, or even plan logically? With so many people suffering from a mental health condition, you may be wondering which factors contribute to them

Here are some:

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that carry signals to other parts of your brain and body. When the networks involving these chemicals are not functioning fully, the nerve receptors and nerve systems change, leading to depression and other disorders.
  • Life experiences  like trauma or abuse can also trigger mental illness.
  • Inherited traits:  Some mental health conditions are hereditary, so it can really help to have a family history, so you know if you’re more predisposed to certain conditions like major depression or bipolar disorderDue to various global factors, mental health problems are becoming increasingly more prevalent. Besides things like getting enough sleep, keeping physically active, and connecting with others, the most important way to maintain positive mental health is to get help when you need it.Here are some important details to store in your phone for when you or someone close to you needs them.

    SADAG Mental Health Line

    011 234 4837 or 0800 4567 789 
    WhatsApp 076 88 22 775

    For suicidal Emergency 0800 567 567

    Destiny Helpline for Youth & Students:   0800 41 42 43

    Substance Abuse Line: 
     0800 12 13 14 or SMS 32312

    Find a support group in your:
     0800 21 22 23

    We need to start normalising mental illness and we can do this by having more conversations about it – stopping the stigma.
    For this reason, Sasfin will be sending out a series of newsletters this year all around mental health, to help raise awareness, disseminate resources and increase accessibility to treatment.

    If you want help understanding the mental health benefits offered through your medical scheme, please contact your Sasfin Consultant today.

    Charleen Rix

    Head of Healthcare, Sasfin Wealth

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