The Ithemba Foundation


Newsletter September 2023


Make October HOPEtober – do the Hope Hike!

There’s no better way to ring in Mental Health Awareness Month than with our Hope Hike – and simultaneously make it HOPEtober right throughout October!

You can join us in person at the Blaauwklippen Wine Estate, R44, Stellenbosch, or wherever you are, to do your bit for awareness raising. The entrance fee is R80 per person and R50 per person for students.

Our family-friendly hike through the spring vineyards is on Sunday, 1 October. Or simply do your own thing wherever you find yourself – last year we even had a participant from China! Most importantly: Let’s break the silence and the stigma around mental health.

If you are at Blaauwklippen we will end our walk with a lucky prize draw, including five of our ten R500 Woolworths vouchers. The other five will be given away in an online draw on 10 October – the World Health Organisation’s World Mental Health Day. This means you will be able to post a selfie of your virtual walk online on Ithemba’s social media pages (Facebook or Instagram) until midday on 10 October. Remember to add your online registration number together with your selfie.

For all of October: Let us normalise and humanise mental health. Wear your “Sky-blue for hope” awareness ribbon right through October and know you are making a huge difference by breaking the stigma and the silence. (Order our beautiful, beaded ribbons at R30 each plus postage from

For entries go to Hope Hike. Your entry fee is for the benefit of Ithemba’s research fund (NPC 2012/171250/08; SARS PBO 930/048/019). For enquiries: 

    • Meanwhile, don’t forget to support our Cape Town Marathon event. We have two entries for the full marathon, and six for the Peace10. Go to and support us with any amount of your choice! 


5 simple things to do in Mental Health Awareness Month

South Africa celebrates Mental Health Awareness Month in October, with 10 October marking the World Health Organisation’s World Mental Health Day. This year’s theme is “Mental health is a universal human right”. Here are five things that we can all do to care for one another – not only in October, or as Ithemba likes to call it, HOPEtober – but right through the year:

  • Mental Health encompasses mental wellbeing and mental illness. Learn what each means.
  • Share information from your favourite mental health organisations, social media accounts, blogs, etc, to disseminate fact-based evidence and help break the stigma and the silence by helping people to understand more about mental health.
  • Share your own mental health story by writing about it, and if you will, posting it – you will be surprised how many people will resonate with you.
  • Donate to a mental health non-profit or charity. Mental health is not a “sexy” subject, and people would prefer to ignore it. But we know what happens if you ignore an illness. It will become worse. Help mental health non-profits to support public education about mental illnesses being biological, clinical illnesses – and treatable.
  • Practise mental health self-care – whether you do exercises, meditate, or just remain conscious of your own needs.

Read more here.


HALT! Use this tool to stay balanced

You know the meaning of HALT! 

In other words: Stop! 

And now. With so many political, environmental, societal and financial stressors taking their toll on our psyches, tell yourself to H.A.L.T. 

This is an acronym for Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. 

“Hungry” means that you should remind yourself that you need nutritious food to function optimally, also mentally. “Angry” should remind you that anger is a result of anxiety and stress – take care of yourself. “Lonely” should signal that you must connect with others for wellness and wholeness, and “Tired” symbolises that you cannot function unless well rested.

Each of these letters symbolises an important aspect of our mental wellbeing. Remember to HALT! For more, go to this Healthy Place website.


Danger ahead – gambling, addiction and you

You may be much more vulnerable in terms of gambling addiction than you think – and it can have disastrous effects on you, your relationships, and, most of all, your mental wellbeing.

A British study revealed that gambling addiction rates might be nine times higher than the British betting industry claims. This was found in what has been called a landmark study in Britain. Some of the findings were that that 1,4 million people “are begin harmed” by their own gambling, while a further 1,5 million are at risk. This led to one major newspaper in Britain deciding not to accept any more gambling advertisements, whether online or in print.

In South Africa we do not have such statistics from local studies, but given the state of our economy, one can presume that too many try their luck with gambling. In fact, it is so “acceptable” and mainstream, there are even TV programmes sponsored by gambling companies. We should ask ourselves if this is acceptable, but meanwhile, please look out for those that might become a victim of gambling addiction. Read more here.


Celebrate achievements, despite ever-changing circumstances

By Dr Cobus McCallaghan

We are heading towards the end of yet another year, and many of us may feel tired and exhausted, while trying to manage the complexities of life.

Feelings of loneliness and isolation can often impact negatively on our wellbeing, simply by the way in which we think and behave, including having negative thoughts, or feeling overwhelmed.

Instead of allowing these negative thoughts and feelings to adversely impact our wellbeing, let us rather reflect positively on what we have achieved so far. Think back to the first part of the year and evaluate the progress and completion of tasks and projects as the year progressed.

We should also remember the part our family, friends and colleagues play in our lives and that we need their support and guidance to help us through difficult times.

Professor Ann Masten, in her short list of multisystem resilience factors, also emphasises the importance of celebrations, traditions, routines and positive habits. Being actively engaged in your own culture, and learning about other cultures, can add another dimension to how you can improve your mental health.

One golden thread throughout our discussion on resilience is to remember not to try to manage your mental health needs all by yourself, especially when you feel overwhelmed, alone and frightened. Share your distress with someone you trust.

Resilience definitions evolve constantly and reflect a dynamic systems perspective, as can be read in this article. Also, “persistence, adaptability and transformability of complex adaptive social-ecological systems” in order to have “the capacity to persist in the face of change, to continue to develop with ever-changing environments” is important, as described in this article on resilience. Another article stresses “the process of harnessing biological, psychosocial, structural, and cultural resources to sustain wellbeing”. Lastly, according to this research, the “multilevel processes that systems engage in to obtain better-than-expected outcomes in the face or wake of adversity” should be kept in mind.

All in all: Celebrate how far you’ve come, while acknowledging that circumstances are ever-changing and ever-challenging.



ITHEMBA FOUNDATION - NPC 2012/171250/08 - PBO 930/048/019