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HST Blog

Oct 11
Mental Health Awareness Month – Taking care of your mental health

​By Willemien Jansen (HST Copy and Content Editor)

mental health.jpg

Anxiety, depression, burn-out. This late in the year, with minimal leave available and most people being overworked on top of pressing family and social commitments, most of us are left feeling overwhelmed. The world is also still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, which took a huge toll on our mental health. Mental Health Awareness Month, commemorated in October each year, is therefore a good time to stop and reflect on our mental health.

But what are we talking about when we refer to mental health? The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act, and helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make healthy choices. Often we focus more on immediate physical health issues and forget that we need to take care of our mental health too. As the saying goes, you can't pour from an empty cup. As many as a quarter of the South African works force suffers from depression, resulting in massive losses in productivity. It is therefore important that companies invest in wellness programmes to help their employees deal with work and life stresses.

Self-care is an important way to make sure you take care of yourself by doing things that will help to improve both your mental and physical health. The National Institute of Mental Health highlights a number of self-care strategies that you can follow to take care of your health:

  • Regular exercise. As little as 30 minutes of physical activity every day can boost your mood and improve your health.
  • Eat healthy, regular meals and stay hydrated. A balanced diet and plenty of water can improve your energy and focus throughout the day.
  • Make sleep a priority. Stick to a schedule, and make sure you're getting enough sleep.
  • Try a relaxing activity. Explore relaxation or wellness programmes or apps, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises. Schedule regular times for these and other healthy activities you enjoy, like journalling, reading, or even playing with your pets.
  • Set goals and priorities. Decide what must get done now and what can wait. Learn to say "no" to new tasks if you start to feel like you're taking on too much. Try to be mindful of what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do.
  • Practice gratitude. Remind yourself daily of things you are grateful for. Be specific. Write them down at night, or replay them in your mind.
  • Stay connected. Reach out to your friends or family members who can provide emotional support and practical help.
  • Ask for help. Don't be ashamed to contact a professional if you feel like you're not coping. Getting help early can avoid bigger problems down the line.

Let's use Mental Health Awareness Month to reset and focus on our mental health so we can remain happy, productive, and balanced human beings for the rest of the year.


  • Government Mental Health Helpline - 0800 12 13 14
  • Suicide Helpline - 0800 567 567
  • 24 hour Cipla Mental Health Helpline - 0800 456 789
  • 24 hour Substance Abuse Helpline - 0800 12 13 14 SMS 31393
  • Website


  • Dr Reddy's Help Helpline - 0800 21 22 23
  • Pharmadynamics Police &Trauma Helpline - 0800 20 50 26
  • Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety Helpline - 0800 70 80 90
  • Destiny Helpline for Youth & Students - 0800 41 42 43
  • ADHD Helpline - 0800 55 44 33
  • 24hr Department of Social Development Substance Abuse helpline - 0800 12 13 14 SMS 32312
  • 24hr Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0800 567 567
  • 24hr Cipla Mental Health Helpline - 0800 456 789
  • 24hr University of Cape Town Student Helpline 0800 24 25 26
  • 24hr University of Pretoria Student Careline - 0800 747 747
  • University of the Western Cape after hours Student Helpline - 0800 222 333
  • 24hr Discovery Medical Student Helpline - 0800 323 323
  • Tshwane University of Technology after hours Student Helpline - 0800 687 888


  • Youthline for counselling services and youth mentoring programmes: Free call 0800 376 633
  • Contact the Childline services and speak to counsellors: +27 (0) 31 201 2059
  • SA Federation For Mental Health: +27 (0) 11 781 1852; +27 (0) 86 558 6909


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