Addressing the issue of anxiety and our mental wellbeing

Matric may be over but the challenges aren’t.

An interview with Nonhlanhla Dube of Boston City Campus

  1. Now that exams are over for matrics, after a horrible year, how should they cope with the wait until results are released? What challenges do you believe they are facing?
  • Waking up and not having anything to do for the day. No more study schedules to follow, no structure to the day.
  • Maybe not having decided on what next
  • Waiting for results and the anxiety of what they will be
  • Waiting to hear if you have been accepted into your selected course and the delayed start of tertiary for 2021
  • The pressure of not performing well, and maybe disappointing yourself and others who believe in you.
  1. What advice do you have to combat the anxiety?
  • Start making your plans and goals for 2021. Decide on what industry you want to study in. Complete the Career Compass at Boston to find your industry. Then establish ALL the options that are in that industry eg IT. If you are expecting good results in maths, the systems diploma is a great option. If your results are not what you expected look at N+ which gets you into the industry.  If that is not an option, then there are other qualifications such as data capture, computer clerk and others. What we want to say is there will always be an option to get into your preferred industry!
  • Remain active – you deserve a rest but you need to be doing stuff! Read, rest, connect digitally with friends. Look for work. Try get a few weeks of vac work – it will give you a reason to get up in the morning, a chance to earn some money, and an opportunity to network. And it’s great for your mental health!
  • Be proactive for future studies – make applications, make inquiries and speak to counsellors. This will not just fall in your lap.
  • Start creating a CV if you do not have one, keep a file with certificates and a record of all work you do. Ask for reference letter as soon as the work is completed – it’s easier than going back to ask after time has passed.
  1. Let’s address the issue of anxiety and our mental wellbeing?
  • This affects everyone – we have had a nasty confusing and horrible year. Yes, we all have things we can be grateful for but 2020 threw us off our tracks.  Believe in yourself, find your niche and have confidence, be kind to others and most important, be gentle to yourself. This is important advice!!  You will feel pressure from school from teachers, parents and friends, they may have high expectations, you may be concerned about disappointing them. But there is always a next step for you. Create NOW plan B. and then create plan C. If you create your new options, you will feel calmer.
  1. How does Boston address this anxiety that students feel?
  • Boston makes sure that there is a study opportunity for everyone, as much as possible! We provide free career counselling to everyone, with no commitment. We have established a Graduate+ programme to help with extraneous matters such as CV building, interview techniques, advice for employment and various learnership and job opportunities.
  1. Can you really say that everything will be ok when you don’t know what student results will be?

Imagine the worst, and then you can face it if it happens. If the worst is that you fail  -then decide now on your plan B. Do you rewrite matric? Or do you try do a qualification for which a matric is not needed? Our advice from Boston is to redo matric.  There are options if you don’t have a matric, but we do believe that if you have the capacity, it is worth investing in your future and repeating if you did not pass. And it’s NOT a big deal!

  • There is a lot out there and the next best step is to speak to a counsellor and find out what are your plan A,  plan B and plan C options. Then when you get your results you will be calm because no matter what, there is a plan in place.

 

NUMBER FOR LIFELINE 0861 322 322

Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety Helpline
0800 70 80 90

SADAG Mental Health Line
011 234 4837

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Let’s speak about the unspeakable – suicide awareness and mental health

Let’s speak about the unspeakable – suicide awareness and mental health

 According to the World Health Organisation close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year.

Suicide is not about wanting to die; it is about wanting to end one’s unbearable pain of despair, anxiety or depression. It’s about not being able to see a way out of a situation.

“The people around us are valuable, life is precious, and we must try do everything in our power to stop people from making negative and irreversible decisions,” says Nonhlanhla Dube of Boston City Campus.

People need to feel valued and loved.  We can make a difference, showing them, “I believe in you,” – giving a person a sense of hope, that there is always a plan b, no matter how bad a situation may seem at the time.  We can’t promise people everything will work out the way they want it to – but we can show them that there is another possibility, and we can try help someone in pain.

Nonhlanhla gives a few tips on how you can help them:

Pay close attention

If someone mentions that they are dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts – do not dismiss it as something they can handle on their own. Talking about their feelings means they are asking for help – even if they aren’t explicitly saying “Help me.”

Talk

Don’t sweep difficult subjects under the rug.  If you are concerned that someone is considering suicide, openly ask them about it and talk about their feelings.

Listen

Sometimes a person who is thinking terrible thoughts just needs a friend to be a sounding board to express their fears, anger, and despair.

Face it head-on

After you listen to them, ask them openly: “Are you thinking about suicide/ harming yourself?”  Let them know you are there for them and that they are not alone.

“Keep in mind that while you can offer support, you can’t heal them.  When you give advice, it should be to seek professional help from someone trained in this aspect of counselling.

Never hide it

If someone needs help, you have a responsibility to help them. Don’t agree to confidentiality.

We all want to be there for our friends when they need us, but what should we do if they open up to us about their mental health struggles? Laura, 17, shares her tips.

Assess whether you are mentally stable enough to support them –

Listen to them.

Ask what they would like from you.

Talk to an adult.

Check up on them.

Nonhlanhla continues saying she understands that we all are dealing with our own issues. “It’s okay if you can’t always be there for your friends. We all have our own life challenges and if you are currently struggling with your mental health, anxiety or a huge workload – it’s completely understandable that you cannot be drained by those of a friend as well. However, “don’t simply ignore them,” she says.

Be attentive

“Alert a family member or college lecturer to take up the issue.  Contact professional organisations to assist such as Lifeline (011715 2000)  or SADAG (South African Depression and Anxiety Group) on 0800 567 567 (Suicide Crisis Line) or 011 234 4837 (Mental Health Line).”

“Look for warning signs and report on them if you feel things are out of the ordinary”. These include:

Withdrawal, depression, tearfulness, no appetite. Reliance on alcohol or even caffeine drinks to get through the day. Friend not taking calls, not responding to messages, missing class/assessments or exams. Mentioning keywords that include self-harm, failure or fear of disappointing parents, etc.

“While suicide is often a taboo subject, we need to bring it into the open to help heal those in need.  Being aware of warning signs can help us take the necessary action wherever we can.

Remember, you need support during this difficult time too.  Do your best by providing the necessary support, by being there,  and referring to professional help when you feel that’s the best option,” concludes Nonhlanhla.