24/01/2018 17:53 SAST | Updated 24/01/2018 17:54 SAST

Only You Can Make Your Mental Health A Priority In 2018

...and this may require more than just "drinking everything away".

Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you don't take care of your mental health in 2018, no one else will.

At least one in three South Africans is believed to suffer from some form of mental disorder, with depression contributing more than 40 percent of the mental-illness burden.

"Not addressing these pressures and neglecting mental health can predispose one to various illnesses, as well as negatively impact relationships and performance at home and work," says director of Hope House Counselling Centre Judy Strickland.

She is of the opinion that this can change – but that this will require individuals to take their mental health as seriously as they do eating and drinking.

Her suggestions:

1. Set enough time aside for family and close friends

Research indicates that healthy family- and friend-time strengthens bonds, creates memories, nurtures positive behaviours and relieves stress.

2. Put strict boundaries in place

If it means switching your work phone off when at home, do that. Overextending yourself can leave your energy levels depleted, and you may feel exhausted, frustrated, stressed, rushed and anxious.

3. Take regular short walks

Exercise has been proven to have great benefits including relieving stress, improving memory, helping you sleep better and boosting your overall mood.

4. Get plenty of sleep

Sleep is as important to our health as eating and drinking is. Poor sleep has been linked to depression, anxiety, memory issues and an increased risk of heart disease.

5. Speak to a professional

There is no shame in seeking help regarding your mental wellbeing. "Whether under short-term stress or working through a longer-term concern, setting aside time to talk about your mental health with a professional can be helpful," says Strickland.

If you need help, here are some organisations that offer mental healthcare assistance free:

1. Hope House Counselling Centre offers counselling to everybody from the age of three and up. It also runs substance-abuse prevention and intervention programmes in schools across Western Cape. Contact them on 021 715 0424.

2. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) offers free and confidential counselling. Their 24-hour helpline is 0800 12 13 14.

3. Sadag's Suicide Crisis Line is 0800 567 567 or SMS 31393.

3. Lifeline offers 24-hour counselling, and they can appoint you a counsellor to meet face-to-face. Reachable on 0861 322 322.