DURBAN – The month of May is mental health awareness month and the coronavirus has proven just how much support service is needed for those facing mental illness, substance abuse, and more.
An estimated 400 million people worldwide suffer from mental or neurological disorders or from psycho-social problems. A recent survey conducted by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) found that nearly half of the 1 214 respondents felt that financial stress and pressure were one of the main challenges during the lockdown. Adding to this, over half of respondents cited anxiety and panic as a major challenge.
“One of the things that has come out to us in the research which was surprising, is that a lot of front-line workers really felt traumatised by the pandemic, and they described symptoms which sounded like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),” said Professor Bonga Chiliza.
In response to this, the World Health Organization has put out “Doing What Matters in Times of Stress” an illustrated guide aimed to equip people with practical skills to help cope with stress.
The guide, published April 29, coincides with the start of Mental Health Awareness Month, marked globally in May. Though it was commissioned years before the pandemic, it echoes much of what WHO leaders have been speaking about over the last few weeks: we need to take mental health seriously during the pandemic.
“Although it wasn’t specifically developed to help people manage stress during the COVID-19 pandemic, we hope that it will help people who are currently feeling under stress as a result of the pandemic,” said WHO communications officer Alison Brunier.
The guide comes with audio and illustrations. It is currently being translated into other languages, and the translation versions will be online sometime in the next few weeks.
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