The Ithemba Foundation


Newsletter February 2023


10 Tips for a mental wellness year

The year is already running away with us – but we can take control to ensure we remain in balance with both body and mind. If you suffer from any of the so-called common mental health disorders, such as depression, or the different anxiety disorders, it is important to support both body and mind. Follow these ten tips to support your mental wellbeing throughout the year. They include taking care of your body with exercise and a balanced diet, sleeping enough, but also challenging your brain with new skills. In this article there are tips for better sleep for all age groups, including babies, teens, midlife and all the way up to old age.


Tips to get you through “stuff”


We all know those moments when you feel you just cannot get through the next five minutes, irrespective of what the cause of your anxiety is. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, it is even worse and makes doing anything almost impossible. But if you can get through the first five minutes – when your anxiety tells you, you can’t – you can face the rest. Here are four tips to survive the first five minutes of anything.  Besides these tips, remember that breathing will also help you through anxious moments. Here is a podcast from the British Guardian newspaper in which you will get tips for better breathing to support your mental health.


Save the date!

While the year has picked up speed – and going too fast already – now is also the time to save the date for some Ithemba – in other words: HOPE – activities for 2023. Circle your diary on Friday, 2 June, for our #CrazySocks4Docs Day in support of the mental wellbeing of all our caregivers, from doctors to nurses to admin staff, in all sectors of health services. Diarise 1 October 2023 for the 2023 Hope Hike and Hope Bike, taking place both virtually and in person at Blaauwklippen Wine Estate. Also circle 15 and 16 October – Hopetober – for our participation in the Cape Town Marathon in aid of mental health awareness. We’re looking forward to an awesome HOPEtober!


How to build resilience in children – also in yourself

By psychiatrist Dr Cobus McCallaghan

In a world that often feels out of control, we need to be resilient against all possible onslaughts. Ithemba board member and psychiatrist Dr Cobus McCallaghan says Ann Masten’s shortlist of “ten multisystem resilience factors” is a good tool to help you guide your child – and yourself – to become more resilient. In this and the next Ithemba newsletters for this year, Dr McCallaghan will give a brief outline of the ten resilience factors (see the table below). And remember: It is never too late to rectify the situation if an individual feels they have a deficit in any of these resilience factors.

Dr McCallaghan: “We at Ithemba would like to give you guidance to improve or maintain your mental health. Resilience is key and refers to the capacity to adapt successfully in the presence of adversity. Resilience includes multiple systems that interact with one another. Early research already pointed to the fact that family function and quality caregiver-input play an important role in the resilience of children at high risk (reference 1 below). Over decades, resilience science became more focused on dynamic, multi-level processes, also to be a “member” of a system in order to develop your own persistence, adaptability and transformability (see reference 2 below). We all have biological, psychological and social needs, and each of these should be nurtured and valued.

“Believe it or not, the first resilience factor, sensitive caregiving, should already start before conception. Parents-to-be should plan to project adequate care to the baby after birth while still in the uterus in order for the infant to attach to the parents and to be able to develop into an independent and responsible adult.

“The second factor is a sense of belonging and cohesion. Individuals can achieve resilience by connecting to the resilience of what is called interconnected systems. Such systems include support groups, church activities, involvement in taking care of the needy, or sport or cultural activities, including book clubs. We need protective networks to allow us to develop resilience to achieve Masten’s resilience capacities.

“Ithemba is an example of an organisation that collaborates with others, and we advise you to also ‘get connected’ and to experience the power of sensitive caregiving, close relationships and social support. You will discover a network of support if you invest time in finding them.

“Always remember: Anything that is worthwhile, will take time, dedication and hard work, but when the process is in action and you persist, you will taste the fruits that come with your hard work. Never give up, do not isolate yourself, and ask for help when you feel you want to give up.”


  1. Masten, A.S. & Monn, A.R. “Child and Family Resilience: A Call for Integrated Science, Practice, and Professional Training.” Family Relations, 64, (February 2015).
  2. Lade, S.J. et al. “Resilience offers escape from trapped thinking on poverty alleviation.” Science Advance, 3, (May 2017).

Other reading:

Credit: Ann Masten



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