The Employee Wellness Programme (EWP) at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) has been working around the clock to ensure that the university staff is coping mentally during the COVID-19 lockdown.
EWP feels it is important for the DUT staff to mind their mental health during COVID-19.
Clinical and consulting psychologist, Nozibusiso Nyawose is working with DUT in facilitating webinars to help the staff of the University cope and deal with problems that came with the COVID-19 lockdown.
Nyawose said it is hard for some people to accept that COVID-19 has become their new reality. She explained that the main problem is that most people find it difficult to adapt to change. While some people are strong but there are those struggling to cope which then affects their mental health. Continuous reports of the spike of infections has left many people living in fear.
According to Nyawose there are people who have gotten ill because of fear of being infected with Coronavirus. She added that some of the signs for mental illness are, excessive worrying, hypervigilance, lack of concentration, irritability and restlessness.
Nyawose elaborated that some people suffer from anxiety which can be spotted by some of the signs such as fear, sweating, trembling. Some people are also said to be suffering from depression and some of the signs people should look out for are weight loss or gain, loss of energy, suicidal thoughts, severe and persistent fatigue and withdrawal from others.
“Mental illness can be treated. It is important to try and see this time as unique and not as necessarily all bad. Make use of it to self-introspect. Connection is important, think of creative ways to stay connected with others. Avoid adopting new and negative habits. Avoid over eating. Create a daily routine that prioritise things you enjoy,” advised Nyawose.
She encouraged the DUT community to play its role in preventing stigma during COVID-19, to avoid causing damage to one’s physical and mental health.
Knowing the facts about COVID-19 and sharing them with others at work and at home, is one way that Nyawose said could help to stop the stigma related to the virus.
She warned people about entertaining jokes about COVID-19 and sending misinformed chain messages. Talking about positive recovery stories is largely encouraged to motivate affected individuals to recover physically and mentally. Dealing with change is not easy but Nyawose said people can find ways to deal with it by regulating their emotions.
“I will share five ways in which one can regulate their emotions. Start your day well. Check in with yourself and how you feel. Stay informed but not overloaded. Hearing upsetting or anxiety provoking news triggers stress response in our bodies. Try to limit social media intake and reading things about the outbreak,” said Nyawose.
EWP Manager, Samantha Rajcoomar said taking care of your mind and body is extremely critical during this period of lockdown. She said the EWP office is readily available to provide virtual counselling to staff members who are concerned about their mental health, stigma, their return to work and any stress that they may be experiencing. Rajcoomar assured staff that their queries will be attended confidentially and timeously. For appointments kindly contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictured: Clinical Psychologist, Nozibusiso Nyawose.