Open dialogue about mental health helps



MASERU – One can lead a normal life with mental illness if one properly manages the symptoms, and expert has said. Counselling psychologist from the Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation Lesotho, Mpheng Thamae, has said people fail to realise numerous ways to effectively treat mental illness and that one can live a normal lifestyle by learning how to properly manage mental health disorder symptoms.

One of the reasons why it is important to talk about mental illness and mental health conditions, she said, is that the number of mental health diagnoses has risen substantially. She said one of the contributions to mental health illness is gender-based violence, adding further that reports show that one in every three women in Lesotho has been abused, and out of all those that are abused, only 40 percent report which, she said, means there is a challenge.

She adds: “It creates more harm psychologically than we would want to admit.” The state of one’s mental health affects how they think, feel, and ultimately how they act, and by talking about mental health openly, more people may be encouraged to seek professional help.

She also noted that opening up about mental illness will allow one to express how they truly feel, and it gives others a chance to help by guiding them through difficult times. The Institute of Development Management (IDM), a regional Institute established by the three countries of Botswana, Lesotho and eSwatini with the core mandate of promoting training, research and consultancy, celebrated Mental Health Awareness Day to deliberate on mental health issues.

The registrar of the institution, ’Mathabo Sebilo, said during the celebration that mental health problems can affect many areas of students’ lives, reducing their quality of life, academic achievement, physical health, and satisfaction with the college experience, while negatively impacting relationships with friends and family members. “These issues can also have long-term consequences for students, affecting their overall future health,” Sebilo said. A psychologist from Mohlomi hospital, Pearl Letsoela, explained that common signs of someone suffering from mental health include loneliness, unusual behaviour, and too much sleep.

She further explained that mental illness, covers a wide range of mental health conditions and disorders that affect the mood, thinking and behaviours. Most people have mental health concerns from time to time, but a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect the ability to function. She said it can make one miserable and can cause problems in daily life, such as at school or work or in relationships.

Mental Dealth Day is commemorated yearly on October 10, to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilise efforts in support of mental health. The day, according to World Health Organization (WHO), provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.

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