In our fast-paced world as the youth of South Africa, mental wellbeing often takes a backseat, overshadowed by the demands of daily life. However, mental wellbeing is crucial for our overall health and happiness. Mental well-being encompasses our emotions, self-understanding, thought processes, interpersonal interactions, and responses to stress. Recognising the signs that something is brewing within us and learning how to seek help are vital steps towards maintaining a healthy mind. As young individuals navigating various challenges, from relationship dynamics to financial pressures, it is imperative that we equip ourselves with tools to prioritise mental health.
Host: Lebogang Kutu
Implementation Partner, YES
The challenges faced by youth
“As youth, we are stressed. Being economically excluded is genuinely a very difficult space for many of us as young South Africans,” says Rahiwa-Mashudu Tabane. Many of the youth lack the understanding, tools, and support systems to navigate these challenges while maintaining their mental health. The comprehension that the work of navigating this economy and mental health challenges that it comes with starts with the individual.
Recognising the need for help
Understanding when to seek help for our mental well-being can be challenging. If we find ourselves unable to cope without relying on unhealthy habits, or viewing them as the sole solution to our problems, it is an indication that we are struggling.
Signs of mental illness include an increased dependence on coping mechanisms, withdrawing from social interactions, negative thoughts, and internalising negative remarks from others. It is essential to acknowledge these signs and realise that seeking help is not a sign of weakness but an act of self-care and strength. “We do not want to end up with individuals who have mental illnesses that they do not understand,” says Lusanda Cebekhulu.
Stress and anxiety are a part of life and stress can lead to anxiety. A few ways of identifying anxiety include struggling to complete tasks, procrastination, demotivation, low energy levels, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, irritability, self-blame, and criticism of others. When experiencing these symptoms, it is important to pause, reflect on the possible causes, and take proactive steps to address them.
Dealing with work pressure
Work-related stress can have a significant impact on our mental wellbeing, especially when we feel the pressure to perform above and beyond expectations. To navigate such situations, it is essential to cultivate a positive mindset, establish clear goals, ask for help when needed, set personal boundaries, communicate openly about our struggles, and remain open to learning and growth.
Effective coping tools
Developing effective coping mechanisms is vital for maintaining mental wellbeing. Setting personal boundaries, actively listening to ourselves, conducting daily self-check-ins, addressing problems promptly to avoid burnout, and prioritising tasks are valuable tools in managing stress and maintaining balance.
Communicating with colleagues
Communicating respectfully and effectively with your colleagues is crucial for maintaining a positive work environment. When addressing concerns or challenges, Lusanda Cebekhulu advises that you send a concise, clear email expressing your needs. If necessary, seek appropriate channels to escalate issues and ensure that your manager is aware of any difficulties you encounter.
Supporting mental health initiatives
Recognising the need for accessible mental health resources, YES has partnered with Syked to launch the Mindful Matters programme with the realisation that in South Africa, there is a significant treatment gap that exists. This programme aims to bridge the divide by offering professional support through the Syked app and website (www.syked.co.za). Such initiatives provide individuals with the ability to access therapy and support directly from their mobile devices, empowering them to prioritise their mental wellbeing.
Prioritising mental well-being is crucial for young individuals navigating the complexities of life. By recognising the signs that we need help, managing stress and anxiety effectively, developing coping skills, communicating assertively with superiors, and supporting mental health initiatives, we can empower ourselves to maintain a healthy mind. Let us break the stigma surrounding mental health, equip ourselves with knowledge and resources, and strive towards a future where mental well-being is prioritised and nurtured.
Download the Syked app now or go to the Syked website www.syked.co.za to start your journey of becoming mentally healthy.