Unpacking mental health

With more than eight years’ experience, clinical psychologist Nicole van Wyk speaks about the importance of mental health. Picture: Supplied

With more than eight years’ experience, clinical psychologist Nicole van Wyk speaks about the importance of mental health. Picture: Supplied

Published Oct 21, 2023


Durban - Continually checking your mental health is vital to tackling the many challenges life throws at you and help you cope.

“Mental health is the cornerstone of every aspect of well-being,” said clinical psychologist Nicole van Wyk.

“The body responds in a very real way to our mental health – either positively or negatively. Given the challenges we have experienced in our world, mental health is fundamental in enabling one to manage the challenging world, equipping us with internal resources and ‘fuel’.”

She said a focus on mental health would help prevent mental illness and use the mind as a powerful tool to help, rather than it being a weapon to harm.

With eight years of experience, Van Wyk said she had done extensive work with the younger generation through volunteering as well as working within clinics and government hospitals.

“An acknowledgement of mental health should be a regular practice; however, World Mental Health Day, marked this month, is your ‘check engine’ light. It’s a reminder to check in with yourself and ensure there is a focus on holistic health. Much in the way that one visits the dentist or physician for regular check-ups, World Mental Health Day is your annual mental health check-up,” she said.

“Mental health encompasses far more than the initial assumption of there being a lack of mental disorders or disabilities; it also concerns the state of mental well-being and the ability of people to perform while experiencing the stresses of life,” said Lynda Pretorius, Lyn Campbell and Lisa Shaw, life orientation teachers and school counsellors at Danville Park Girls’ High School.

“In a school environment, mental health is related to pupils being able to realise their abilities, retain knowledge and work effectively and efficiently as well as being able to contribute to their community.”

They said that assigning a day to mental health raised awareness of the challenges created by mental health issues. “This is vital because it aids in reducing stigmas associated with mental health issues and provides a supportive environment conducive to learning,” they said.

Danville Park Girls’ High School educators, from left, school counsellor and head of life orientation Lyn Campbell; psychologist and school counsellor Lynda Pretorius; and school counsellor and life orientation teacher Lisa Shaw, speak on mental health to mark World Mental Health Day on Tuesday. Picture: Supplied

To inform the younger generation, the teachers said mental health was discussed within their life orientation curriculum in which where they shared various coping mechanisms and activities that focused on physical, mental and social well-being. They said they had prominently placed posters with contact details of various organisations and reminded pupils there were three school counsellors on campus.

World Mental Health Day was marked on October 10 and aimed to provide a platform for people suffering with mental issues to speak and share.

The Independent on Saturday