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The Student Health and Wellness Centre at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) recently hosted the Annual Mental Health and Wellness event on Microsoft Teams.

The facilitator was DUT’s Ms Siphesihle Ngubo, Health Promotion Project Officer who requested students and staff to use the resources available at the institution to ensure that they are assisted to maintain a healthy mental health state at all times.

The first speaker was Dr Joe Molete, DUT’s Midlands Campus Director, who is also a lifestyle coach. His presentation was based on the various ways which people can use to transform themselves.

He said the first thing that people need to do to transform themselves is to have a clear vision, making reference to the book by Nick Williams titled: The Work We Were Born To Do. In his experience, he said that most people that are struggling with stress do not have a clear vision of what they are part of. At work, he encouraged people to find the work that they love, and love the work that they do.

“How do you know if you are doing the work that you are born to do? Firstly, it doesn’t feel like work in a traditional sense. You know people especially those who are paid well say, I am going to play piano, I am going to play golf or soccer. You need to develop the quality of head and heart, you work for love and money and contribute what you uniquely have to share. If you are just working because you want money, you are not serving the world and you are not doing the things that you love, you will live a serious painful life. Happiness is when what you say, think or do are aligned, this is where the law of vibrations work. Some people tell you one thing that they want but they do the opposite,” said Dr Molete.

To succeed in life, Dr Molete encouraged people to have a logo which will direct them towards their vision. He said 90% of people die only using 10% of their potential. He advised that people should be prepared for the tough times, be ready for upsetting moments.

“Break the cage, there are family issues that have caged people, financial issues and some inner insecurities. When doing these exercises with people, 90% of people pick other elements and never focus on themselves and I remind them that if there’s no enemy within, the enemy outside will do you no harm. I tend to think that emotional stress is the worst as it triggers all the other stress levels. Take stock of your life and don’t blame one element because when one area is affected it will affect other areas. Look at those areas that are preventing you from rising to the next level and deal with them without apologising,” advised Dr Molete.

Dr Vuyani Nxumalo, a Psychiatrist at Sterkfontein Hospital focused on mental health, he alluded that the timing of the event is good given the things that are happening in South Africa, especially the COVID-19 pandemic, which has got so much effect on people’s mental well-being.

“I can see that of late people are talking alot about mental illness whereas in the past it was not something that people would be focusing on. People used to focus on the physical conditions and forgetting that you still need to be mentally strong in order to survive in different things,” said Dr Nxumalo.

When defining mental wellness, Dr Nxumalo said it is a positive state of mental health, meaning the mind is functioning at one’s best interest to be able to think, feel and act in a way that contributes effectively to one’s life. He said a person with a good mental wellness is able to achieve his/her goals and is able to cope with everyday stress.

“The truth is that everyone undergoes different challenges in their lives. It could be from work, family environment or academic life. How can one keep himself mentally well? You have to learn about yourself, finding out who are you? What are your strong points and weak points? You, knowing all those things, it helps to understand yourself better and be able to understand your capabilities. Those capabilities that you have, you must be able to accept them and be true to yourself. Part of living is trying to grow each day, for you to become a better person. Another thing that can help you is maintaining your healthy lifestyle which includes things like a balanced diet, balanced meals which helps you to function optimally. Exercise regularly which produces happy hormones that will assist you to deal with stress. Not forgetting getting enough sleep which is good for the brain to function effectively,” said Dr Nxumalo.

He also advised people to limit alcohol consumption as it also affects their functionality and avoid using drugs which also disturbs their mental well-being. He encouraged people to have strong relationships with friends and family which serves as a good support structure.
Covering the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Professor Champaklal Jinabhai, the Chairperson of the DUT COVID-19 Response Task Team said the primary goal of mental health interventions is to end all human suffering and to promote wellness in all its forms, physical wellness, emotional health, psychological and spiritual transformation to foster happiness, compassion, care and solidarity.

“Ubuntu, a spiritual term that we use in South Africa. It is a state in which we have a beautiful inner state of calm and peace. A state in which we are able to withstand the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The source of human suffering is in the consciousness of individuals and it’s a dominant fear. A dominant emotion of human suffering is fear in all its form. Fear of contracting the COVID-19 infection, being debilitated by it, financial loss and ultimately the fear of death. These fears transcend the individual consciousness and is now the dominant emotion of the collective humanity of seven billion people,” said Prof Jinabhai.

He said these fears and their associated consequences cause human suffering and misery at two or three different levels which are the biological impact, psycho social impact and the spiritual moral damage. To tackle the fear, he said scientifically proven vaccines strengthens all the organ systems in the body which then provides protection against COVID and promotes health. Prof Jinabhai advised people to overcome the vaccine hesitancy by tackling the fear about the vaccine and overcome it. He encouraged all staff and students, all community members across the country to take the vaccine and continue adhering to the COVID-19 health regulations at all times.

The guests also had an opportunity to watch the Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) demonstration which was conducted by DUT’s Emergency Medical Care (EMC) students.
Other speakers included Dr M Panday who focused on sexual reproductive health, Ms Thulile Khuzwayo from Civil Society Forum, Mr Shaun Naidoo, a motivational speaker from Becoming Legacy, Mr Jason Stout from DUT’s Sports Administration Department and Ms Cynthia Gugu Sacolo from the DUT Disability Unit, whom all gave messages of support.

Delivering the vote of thanks was DUT’s Sister Caren Jagessar from DUT’s Isolempilo Clinic.

Pictured: Dr Joe Molete

Simangele Zuma

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