‘It is a difficult time for everyone’

Mental health is a huge concern during the lockdown.

As the country reaches the seventh week of lockdown, many people, especially those with mental illnesses, will be feeling more psychological strain, but there are things you can do to help you cope.

While routines and schedules are good, clinical psychologist Charity Mkone, from the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag), says too much over-planning can create extra pressure, especially for those with mental-health issues.

Take it one day at a time, and don’t over-plan your daily schedules, she says.

It’s a difficult time for people with mental-health issues, as Covid-19 has created a lot of uncertainty that can aggravate anxiety, Ms Mkone says.

It is important to know what is in and out of your control, she says.

The lockdown can trigger people with mental-health issues, especially those prone to depression as they are now “isolating” and not in social settings or enjoying activities. People with anxiety disorders might be worrying even more, she says, and fears about germs, hand-washing and sanitising surfaces will be hard for those with obsessive compulsive disorder. “It is a difficult time for everyone, and although it may feel personal, we are in this together, and it is affecting everyone.”

Ms Mkone says it is important to have down time to switch off from the news and reports about Covid-19.

Clinical psychologist Viwe Dweba advises living each day intentionally to counter anxiety brought on by the unusual nature of the lockdown – get out of bed, make your bed and get out of your pyjamas, and stick to a routine by continuing to work from home, if possible.

Take care of your body, she says, because physical health is linked to mental health.

Ms Dweba also recommends talking to friends regularly through video calls and messaging.