Pandemics can challenge our mental health


Adults and adolescents with existing mental health conditions may experience severe challenges caused by the uncertainty and overwhelming fear during the pandemic.

For those suffering from depression, anxiety or bipolar mood disorder, the current pandemic may have a profound impact on their mental health.

A change in perception towards mental health is needed

The outbreak of Covid-19 led to 2020 being a year of trials and immense hardship for many, as well as a new way of life no one could have expected.

Suicide, which is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages, continued to soar as many felt destitute and hopeless.

At the beginning of August, health minister Zweli Mkhize, in a written reply to a DA Parliamentary question in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP)1, stated that close to 1 800 people in South Africa committed suicide in the four months following the declaration of the lockdown in March.

As we start 2021, it remains clear that there is still a lot to overcome.

“Mental health has always been critically important; however, as the pandemic continues to evolve and take its toll, greater focus needs to be placed on taking care of our mental health and the mental health of those around us,” explained Johan Lombaard, clinic manager at Life Brackenview.

Life Mental Health is a leading provider of psychiatric services dedicated to mental wellness care in a holistic and caring environment where a team of experts continue to drive awareness and education around suicide and depression to reduce the stigma and ensure early intervention.

“Isolation, loss of family, financial burdens and loss of income are all triggers to the development and exacerbation of mental health conditions that in many cases require medical intervention for the safety of the patient,” said Lombaard.

“Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen that when mental health care users are admitted, the severity is much more pronounced because of a delay in seeking treatment.”

The arrival of 2021 has brought with it great apprehension for what this year will bring, with many people feeling trapped and hopeless with the challenges this year has already presented.

“Covid-19 is going to be with us for a while to come. Now more than ever, an opportunity exists to destigmatise and promote a culture of acceptance of mental health that will lead the way in 2021,” said Lombaard.

The link between depression and suicide

Life Brackenview’s dedicated team is available to help you cope with feelings of uncertainty, stress, depression and anxiety.

According to statistics released by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag), as many as one in six South Africans suffer from anxiety, depression or substance-use problems.

Furthermore, adolescent mental health and depression have become of particular concern over the past year due to increased screen time, isolation, extended school closures, limited social interaction with peers, and witnessing how their families deal with the negative effects of the pandemic and its impact.

Research has also shown that there is a direct link between depression and suicide. While most people may experience diverse moods that range from sadness to loneliness, this can often become more than just a passing mood. Undiagnosed, depression can lead to tragedy.

The immense strain continues to be placed on people and their mental state as they learn to adapt to the changes that have been brought about by the pandemic.

“People need to watch for behavioural changes in their children, relatives and friends, as well as older adults and people with disabilities who need to be reassured that it is common for people to feel distressed during this crisis. Family, friends and colleagues also need to be reminded that asking for and accepting help is a sign of strength,” explained Lombaard.

Should you or a loved one be experiencing feelings of fear, anxiety or going through a depressive episode, Life Healthcare provides private psychiatric services and acute mental health care that can effectively treat and support patients who are taking the strain.

“Coping mechanisms vary from person to person and an increase in psycho-social care is critical to ensure the well-being and livelihoods of those with mental health conditions,” concluded Lombaard.

Visit to find out more about mental health therapies and treatments offered at Life Mental Health or contact 010 009 6200 for more information.

*Source: Life Brackenview