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Mental health awareness during the COVID-19 outbreak and SA Lockdown

The outbreak of, and resulting pandemic and lockdown due to the coronavirus COVID-19 has occurred on a scale almost never seen by most of us today. It has impacted us all in varying ways on a national and international scale. 

The following are some mental health and wellbeing tips and strategies to continue looking after ourselves and each other during these difficult times: 
  • Maintain a daily routine: try to get up at a consistent time and follow a daily plan
  • While it is important to stay informed, remain mindful of being overwhelmed by the constantly changing alerts and media coverage regarding the spread of the virus. So:
  • Limit your time on media platforms: ideally twice / three times a day (morning, noon and evening)
  • Get information from respected sources
  • Filter what you hear: Is it necessary; is it useful; is it helpful?
  • Follow a “calm yet cautious” approach – it is normal to feel uncertain, afraid, worried, anxious, lonely, frustrated and depressed. Even out of control and/or claustrophobic.
  • Please do your best to remain calm and be mindful not to contribute to the widespread panic that can hinder efforts to positively manage this period of crisis.
  • Acknowledge your feelings. If you are overwhelmed, please call: Wits Student Crisis Line (tollfree for Wits students): 0800 111 331; or access the CCDU website for information on specific areas of coping; or email and a therapist will reply to you. 
  • It helps to make a list of things that you can do, that you are in control of: Studying, doing chores, exercising, doing things that you may have been putting off due to a lack of time.
  • Journalling your feelings; doing poetry; reading; undertaking creative exercises (drawing, colouring, artwork), listening to music, taking up a new hobby, are all useful activities to engage in. 
  • Do something that you enjoy doing, or which makes you feel good, every day.
  • Loneliness and feelings of depression may be very real for you. Apart from the suggestions above, try to reach out to loved ones and supportive people through technology, where possible.
  • As much as is possible, show compassion and kindness to one another – these times of fear, isolation (both physical and social) and uncertainty are when it is most important that we strengthen our sense of community by connecting with and supporting each other, through technology.
  • Ensure you are following directives issued by the government, medical advice and observe good hygiene habits, stay physically active, eat nutritious foods – as much as is possible in your circumstances.

We must remember that we can manage this much better together in solidarity, (even if virtually/digitally) and that COVID-19 does not discriminate – it can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, nationality or ethnicity. 

Strategies to cope with social distancing, self-isolation or quarantine 

Going into a period of lockdown – social distancing / self-isolation / quarantine, can contribute to feelings of helplessness and fear. In addition to the above, we encourage the following: 

  • Connection – think of creative ways to stay connected with others, including social media, email and phone
  • Stay connected with your values. Don’t let fear or anxiety drive your interactions with others. We are all in this together!
  • Try to see this as a new and unusual period that might even have some benefits.

Stay safe with awareness, instead of panic.

Reputable sources of information: 

Where to go for support? 

It is extremely important to seek out help if you feel you need it. We want to remind everyone that Wits University is here to offer support through various platforms: 

  • Wits Crisis helpline – freely available 24/7: 0800 111 331 
  • CCDU - 
  • Lifeline - 24hr Helpline 0861 322 322
  • SADAG - 24hr Helpline 0800 456 789 

In addition: