The Importance of Prioritising Mental Health

One thing that we can all agree on is that life can be demanding. Even in our usual routines the expectations on us can sometimes be overwhelming. Our modern lifestyles give little room for prioritising our mental health.

For anyone who has ever experienced a family member or friend who has struggled with anxiety, depression or addiction you can agree that these sorts of issues are often rarely spoken about or are swept under the carpet.

The South African Stress and Health (SASH) study funded by WHO in 2003/2004 found that about 16.5 % of South Africans will suffer from some sort of mental illness.

Did you know that 10 Million South Africans face day to day addiction issues?

We know that many people suffer from depression and anxiety but did you know many of them are dealing with these through a variety of addictions? An addiction is actually a symptom of an underlying problem.

The general view on this topic has often been one of shame and many have suffered this journey alone unable to express their needs adequately. Many of these people also fail to get the right support and professional help. Mental instability has also often been labelled as a weaknesses and that one should just ‘get over it’. These attitudes have done much harm and have forced many into finding their own ‘crutches’ or make shift solutions. Looking more deeply at the many aspects of mental wellness and making it a priority in our own lives, our relationships and in our society will mean a greater amount of people will get the help that they need and deserve.

Why is Good Mental Health Important?

Our bodies are controlled by our brains and this makes mental health the vital key our long term vitality and wellness.

Every day that a person lives without getting adequate assistance for their particular state of mind means that their suffering increases. Poor eating habits, no exercise, stressful relationships due to mood swings and anti-social behavior are all results of poor mental health. These then in turn affect a person in their physical body which results in further problems.

Signs of mental health issues

  • Tired and lethargic
  • Relationship problems
  • Anxiety over everyday issues
  • Sleep issues
  • Eating issues
  • A feeling of dread
  • Negativity
  • Withdrawal from society
  • Apathy
  • Nervousness
  • Unexplained change in mood and overall feelings
  • Drop is usual functioning
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Negative thoughts about oneself or others
  • Illogical thinking
  • Addictions to a substance

How to support someone with a mental health issue

For severe cases you should strongly encourage that they seek proper professional assistance immediately.

  • Assist them in seeking medical advice to confirm the severity and how to proceed.
  • Support them in practical ways. For example: Childcare, meals.
  • Chat with them and help them to see how help is at hand.
  • Don’t judge them.
  • Avoid trying to be their counsellor.
  • Help them see positive in the world.
  • Get them out for some exercise.
  • Be a supportive friend.

The Link Between Trauma and Mental Illness

Many people are not aware of the fact that trauma can affect a person’s life in a variety of ways and often the affects of it can be devastating if left unchecked.

Childhood Trauma

A variety of situations can affect a child in many ways. To understand more about what childhood trauma is and how it affects you as an adult read this recent interview with a survivor of childhood trama or watch the video below…

Abuse/ sexual assaults

If one has been on the receiving end of any form of abuse be it physical or verbal this would result in great trauma to a person if one has not undergone counselling.


As life throws us curve balls we sometime face an unexpected death of someone close. This can be a traumatic situation to find oneself in and with the right support one can more effectively navigate this road.


Any major physical illness can cause a person to begin suffering from a mental illness too.


The road to parenthood is not always an easy one. The up’s and down’s of hormones along with an added sense of responsibility in caring for a tiny bay can often set of unhealthy mental processes. It has to be said that the obvious trauma of a miscarriage is often not dealt with very well by medical professionals and we would urge those that suffer a loss to seek our proper counselling.

A victim of crime

Victims of crime often experience symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Co-dependent family and toxic relationships

Relationships are often a cause for major trauma and dealing with these by finding new ways to cope and manage will give one a fresh view on life!

Avoidance of dealing with a personal issues

People are all so different. As people differ so can the issues that we find particularly challenging or traumatic. If you have an issue that continues to come to mind, causes you to feel deeply wounded or saddened you should seek assistance.

How to Prioritise Mental Health

  • Take a walk daily to allow your body to get fresh and to get your bodies natural endorphins going.
  • Stay connected with friends.
  • Spend time in nature.
  • Keep a record of things you are grateful for and avoid dwelling on negative things in life.
  • Avoid toxic people and relationships.
  • Keep a regular sleep pattern.
  • Eat well and be aware of unhealthy eating patterns.
  • Do not let your work overwhelm you with demands and stress. Make sure you place down boundaries where necessary.
  • Stop multi-tasking and slow down. Try to stay focused on one thing at a time.
  • Limit your time looking at portrayals of ‘The perfect life’ on social media. These unhealthy and often fake “role models” can cause unnecessary mental health strain and comparison.
  • Avoid over scheduling.
  • Find ways to relax.
  • Keep a check on any addictive behaviours. Many find that one glass of wine to ‘calm’ the nerves can quickly turn into a habit that is very difficult to break. One needs to keep a close watch on these addictive behaviours as sometimes they are an indicator of something more serious beneath the surface.
  • Identify past trauma that you have no dealt with adequately. It is important to resolve a trauma in order to become free from the impact of it in your life.
  • See a qualified therapist who can assist you in dealing with root causes and assist you in working through things to provide solutions to your situation.

Let’s break the stigma attached to addictive behaviours, anxiety issues and depression.

Let’s all strive for a society where we can talk openly, share openly and receive the help we need in times of trouble. A health society starts with us!

The Recovery Direct Centre is based in the tranquil suburb of Constantia in Cape Town and is a trauma recovery centre-perfectly positioned and equipped to assist anyone on their journey to mental wellness. The Cape Town Centre is a specialised rehabilitation centre for substance and behaviour disorder treatment. You can contact them on 079 23 57 415.

They use fact-based psychiatric trauma therapy as the main approach to client care and are well equipped to deal with breaking addictions through resolving past trauma.



They offer a range of qualified psychotherapeutic staff who consult daily with each client in one-on-one private sessions daily to construct a path forward that is dedicated to each person.

The Relapse Prevention Program is a game changer in bring lasting recovery from addiction to everyone. This program offers the options of both outpatient support and residential treatments. The professional addiction recovery counsellors offer ongoing support and mentorship whch is vital in long term addiction recovery.

Our specialist led trauma recovery centre works by understanding your unique needs and helping you develop the right tools to move forward.

Visit for more information on how to get the help you, or a person you love, may need.


References: American Psychiatry Association

Emma Reid

Emma is a mom of three. She is an educationalist and holds a Bachelor Degree in English, Media & Writing and Film. She is also a qualified Primary School Teacher. She has a keen interest in curriculum and content development especially for child related fields. With many years of teaching children, and advising parents, she is passionate about childhood development and education - of kids and parents. Her hobbies include photography, reading, travel and spending time in the outdoors with her family and relaxing either in or near the surf!

  1. I find my mental health has really benefited from taking up running. I started running to lose weight, but quickly realised that I loved running a lot more than I expected. Not only has it helped me improve my mental health, it’s improved my sleep too — which also positively impacts my mental health. Cheers 😀

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