Support offered to those stressed and anxious over Covid-19 pandemic
South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) operations director Cassey Chambers said that since the emergence of the virus the organisation had received many calls from people feeling stressed and anxious.
“We cannot confirm the number of calls received, however Sadag are aware that during this time many people might feel even more anxious or stressed. While we don’t want to add to the panic or hysteria, we want to offer help and support to many South Africans who feel scared, confused, anxious and overwhelmed. Sadag helplines are a critical service to many,” said Chambers.
“We have found many are panicked about finances, job loss, medical care, access to medication, appointments with health professionals, feelings of extreme anxiety and stress, and living in fear of the unknown,” she said.
Psychiatrist and Sadag board member Dr Colinda Linde said people were over-thinking the risks because they realised the world as they knew it had changed fundamentally.
“It’s easy to feel anxious, overwhelmed and stressed that it’s the end, there’s nothing left in the food stores, the world will never recover.”
Chambers said to manage stress and anxiety during this time, among other things, maintain a daily routine as much as possible.
“Yes, the situation is frightening and you feel out of control. Acknowledge that and allow yourself specific time to sit with those feelings - and then make sure you focus more time on the things you can control and do. Create a list of things to do to keep yourself busy and active - even during social isolation. Thinking positively during a crisis is easier said than done. One of the best ways to ground yourself is, in fact, in science. Avoid watching or reading news or social media, especially fake news, where facts can become blurred and exaggerated.”
She said that for many people living with a mental health issue, the situation might be exacerbating the symptoms, so it was important to take extra care.
Chambers said working parents who now had to work from home should develop routines around work and family time. “Even if you prefer to stick to your routine and keep work to regular work hours, you may need to re-evaluate. The new normal is likely to involve combining greater flexibility with plans and schedules for non-standard working and family time. Drawing up a schedule for the day can help everyone”
For online service visit the website at www.sadag.org and for free telephonic helplines 24 hours a day call 0800212223, 0800708090, or 0800456789, or the Suicide Helpline 0800567567.