These may be clichés, but they are spot-on. Spring has now really sprung. The weavers are weaving their nests above the ponds if you are fortunate enough to observe them along your early evening walking route, the trees are blossoming, the jasmine smells heavenly, and one really feels the new season pulsating through the earth with the message: Hope springs eternal.
At Ithemba we HOPE that everyone who is on the receiving end of mental disorders – somewhere on that spectrum of mental ill-health, especially in this time of Covid-19 – is founding new hope, whether through therapy and/or medication, and that it really helps you to experience the new season’s “lightness of being”.
The main pillars of mental health, as we know so well, are the Fabulous Four: Healthy eating habits, getting enough sleep, maintaining social connections and staying active. Yet, especially the latter two are so much more difficult under Covid-19. With regards to maintaining social connections, it is as if we have become suspicious of everything. Grab the disinfectant the moment you have touched the doorknob after entering the building! Was that a Covid-19 cough just behind you in the supermarket queue, or just an itchy throat?!
As for staying active: It is as if lethargy has developed as a serious side-effect of Covid-19. It is just so difficult to get going. But ... here is a purpose and a goal, and something that will make you feel good – guaranteed: Participate in our annual Hope Hike or Hope Bike on 4 October to raise awareness around the importance of mental health and to break the silence and the stigma. As it is phrased: Without mental health, there cannot be ANY health.
Besides, this year you can literally start your Hope Hike/Bike with the first step outside your front door. Our Hike and Bike is a virtual one, which means you can participate wherever you are, and you can walk, jog, run or bike any distance you like. As long as you take a selfie and post it with your entry number on Ithemba’s FB page at https://www.facebook.com/IthembaFoundation1/. All you have to do is to enter on https://www.entryninja.com/events/67042-hope-hike-2020. All entries are R50, with student entries at only R30, and you can do your thing for which ever distance you wish ... maybe even just around the block. But then at least you did it, which will maybe inspire you to do more next time. For enquiries you are welcome to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember, you have until World Mental Health Day on 10 October to post your selfie – you might be the lucky winner of one of ten fantastic Fitbits!
And now that you have warmed up after the Hope Hike and the Hope Bike on 4 October ... Ithemba is the only charity involved in raising awareness of the importance of mental health participating in the Cape Town Marathon (CTM). This year’s event, also virtual, will be on 18 October. Of course, it is not only a marathon or a half marathon. There is also the Peace10, to which we invite you to participate in Ithemba’s name. All you need to do is go to https://bit.ly/3jbHRMu, donate any amount you wish, and then send the proof of payment to Jana van Rensburg, Ithemba’s super social media manager, at email@example.com. It can be one donation, e.g., R150 if you and a friend want to enter. Then just e-mail your two names, plus that you have donated R75 per person, to Jana. You will then get an e-mail from Jana with your two voucher codes with which to enter the Peace10 on the CTM’s home page. And you’re set to run your own virtual race. What’s more, if you download the CTM’s app, you’ll have the seagulls in your ears and ... ok, almost the smell of the Atlantic Ocean in your nostrils on that beautiful and unique 10km route along the Atlantic Seaboard. Note: You don’t have to participate, you might simply just want to give a donation through the above link.
“World Mental Health Day is an opportunity for the world to come together and begin redressing the historic neglect of mental health.” These are the words of Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation and someone who has almost become a daily visitor via our TV screens, when he speaks about the Covid-19 pandemic.
World Mental Health Awareness Day is observed on 10 October, and for South Africa, this October is the second year in which the entire month of October has been declared Mental Health Awareness Month. Because, indeed, amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the raging second pandemic as a result of Covid-19, that of mental health, must be addressed.
As Dr Ghebreyesus has said: “We are already seeing the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic on people’s mental wellbeing, and this is just the beginning.” Even more importantly: “Unless we make serious commitments to scale up investment in mental health right now, the health, social and economic consequences will be far-reaching.”
And seeing that October is such a physical month, with all of us walking, jogging, running or biking all through October, let’s also get the youngsters active. A shocking WHO report indicated that 80% of adolescents worldwide are not active enough. This puts their health at risk – indeed, also their mental health. They would much rather focus on a screen than be running about, the report indicated. The proportion of “insufficiently active” girls in 27 countries rose to more than 90% in the period under review, with girls lagging behind boys in physical activity. The WHO says it is a serious situation and that “urgent action” must be taken to get adolescents moving, as inactivity is jeopardising their current and future health. Adolescents should do at least an hour’s moderate to vigorous physical activity a day, including walking or cycling to school and playing games. The WHO also recommended restricting screen time for under-fives.
ITHEMBA FOUNDATION - NPC 2012/171250/08 - PBO 930/048/019