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A Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Women’s rights activists have observed 25 November as a day against gender-based violence since 1981. This date was selected to honour the Mirabal sisters, three political activists from the Dominican Republic who were brutally murdered in 1960 by order of the country’s ruler, Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961).

Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread violations of human rights. According to the United Nations, 35% of women and girls globally experience some form of physical and or sexual violence in their lifetime with up to seven in ten women facing this abuse in some countries.

The United Nations General Assembly has designated 25 November International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and has invited governments, international organisations and NGOs to organise on that day activities designated to raise public awareness on the problem (resolution 54/134 of 17 December 1999).

Women’s activists have marked 25 November as a day against violence since 1981. The date came from the brutal 1961 assassination of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, on orders of Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo.

In South Africa, 25 November is also the starting day of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children.


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The campaign aims to increase awareness of global antibiotic resistance and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers, policy-makers and the agriculture sector to avoid the further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health today. It is rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world. It is compromising our ability to treat infectious diseases and putting people everywhere at risk.

The World Health Organisation is leading a global campaign ‘Antibiotics: Handle with Care’ calling on individuals, governments, health and agriculture professionals to take action to address this urgent problem.

Working together, we can ensure antibiotics are used only when necessary and as prescribed. Antibiotics are a precious resource that we cannot continue to take for granted—we need to handle them with care.


Knowing CPR is an essential life-saving skill. CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and it’s a lifesaving technique that can be used when somebody’s heart is not beating or they have stopped breathing.

CPR could save the life of someone who’s drowning or having a heart attack. Sadly, this may be a more common occurrence than you think. 210 people die from heart disease every day in South Africa, and drowning is South Africa’s leading cause of accidental death but these fatalities could be prevented with CPR so it’s a skill that everyone should learn.


The 4 – 10 November is National Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) week, to mark this important occasion, we explain how to give CPR so you can learn how to save a life. Anyone can give CPR, you don’t need to be a medical professional, which is even more reason that everyone learns how to do it.

Before you give CPR

If you’re not a medical professional, you may be nervous to give CPR. However, it’s better to attempt CPR than do nothing at all.

This advice applies to adults – there is some variance in techniques used for infants or small children.

Before you carry out CPR, you need to ask the following questions:

  • Is the environment safe? Stay calm and remember to be aware of hazards, such as road traffic or a fire.
  • Is the person conscious or unconscious? If they appear unconscious, tap or shake their shoulder and ask, “Are you ok?” Speak loudly and clearly.
  • If there is no response and you are with someone else, one person should start CPR immediately while another calls an ambulance. If you are alone, phone for an ambulance before beginning CPR. However, if someone has suffocated, say from drowning, carry out CPR for one minute and then call for an ambulance.

Once you’ve addressed the above pointers, you’re ready to give CPR.

How to give CPR

  1. Compressions

Compressions are used to restore blood circulation. Here are the steps involved:

  • Lie the person on their back on a firm surface and kneel next to them. However, if you think the person may have suffered a spinal injury, don’t move them as you could cause more damage.
  • Then, place the heel of one of your hands on their breastbone at the centre of their chest. Put your other hand on top of your first hand and interlock your fingers. Make sure that your elbows are straight and position your shoulders directly above your hands.
  • Use your entire body weight (not just your arms) to push hard on the chest by 5-6cm.
  • Keep your hands on their chest, release the compression and allow their chest to return to its original position.
  • Repeat these compressions at a rate of 100 to 120 times per minute until medical staff take over or there are signs of movement.

If you are confidently trained in CPR, move on to the airways and breathing steps below. If not, stick to uninterrupted chest compressions of 100 to 120 a minute, rather than advance to the airway and breathing steps.

  1. Airways

If you’re trained and confident in CPR and have performed 30 chest compressions, check the person’s airways:

  • Place the palm of your hand on the person’s forehead and gently tilt their head back. With your other hand, lift the chin forward to open the airway. This is called the head-tilt, chin-lift manoeuvre. Again, don’t move them if you suspect they have a neck or spinal injury.
  • Check for breathing for no more than 10 seconds. Look for chest motion, listen for normal breath sounds and feel for the person’s breath on your cheek and ear.
  • If they’re gasping or not breathing normally begin step three.
  1. Breathing

This can be referred to as rescue breathing, mouth-to-mouth breathing or even mouth-to-nose breathing (in cases where a mouth cannot be opened or is seriously injured).

  • Pinch the nostrils shut and cover the person’s mouth with yours. This makes a seal.
  • Give a rescue breath – lasting one second – and see if their chest rises. If it does, give a second breath. If it doesn’t, repeat the head-tilt, chin-lift manoeuvre and give the second breath.
  • Then, give 30 chest compressions. 30 compressions followed by two rescue breaths is considered one cycle.

These CPR steps should be continued until there are signs of movement or medical staff can take over.


1 to 30 September

September is Heart Awareness Month – an entire month dedicated to raising awareness about cardiovascular disease in South Africa, culminating with World Heart Day on 29 September.

Much has changed in the world of health in the last few decades, from a time when doctors would recommend smoking certain brands of cigarettes, to today when preventative care is fast becoming a way of life for many people. Yet despite this, the rate of cardiovascular disease in South Africa continues to rise and is a leading cause of death in the country.

You can do much to keep your heart healthy. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and be aware of the risk factors such as smoking, drinking, taking drugs, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and stress.


While August is Women’s month, it is also Child health month. We take a look at therapy for your younger child and adolescent teenager.


Childhood is an important landmark in every person’s life. Anything that happens in that stage has a direct impact on how they behave later in adulthood. The quality of the child’s relationship with their significant adults, the environment in which they are growing; greatly affect their cognitive, emotional and social development.

There is a rise in the awareness of mental health issues affecting children and adolescents, yet it is underestimated and unknown the impact that some adverse conditions and experiences have in children’s everyday life and future.

Children can be exposed to many issues from academic and social pressure, family breakdown; to more severe adverse life experiences, such as bullying, dysfunctional families, poverty, violence, inappropriate care. Which in the long run is very likely to cause emotional, physical and mental health problems.

All children will sometimes display challenging and defiant behaviors. However, some children present abnormal and extreme challenging behavior which are not age-appropriate.

Some children can understand their own feelings, verbalize how they feel and find way to manage them. They develop the ability to understand the emotional state of others. However, others fail or find more difficult to learn this; as such for these children it is more difficult to self-regulate their emotions and behaviors. They might present themselves, more anxious and aggressive than their peers. This further cause the inability to develop social skills which are important in building friendships and meaningful relationship. A limitation that often is protracted into adulthood.

Child therapy is important because is an opportunity for the child to learn to regulate their emotions and understand the connection between their feelings and behavior in order to have more control over the them. Child therapy promotes:

  • Increase in self-esteem and confidence

  • Decrease of anxiety and depression.

  • Development of a healthy sense of self.

  • Increase of social competencies

In Child therapy, the therapist builds a relationship of trust with the child, which is essential. Allowing the child to freely express themselves and gain awareness and understanding of the inner-self. In the therapeutic space the child or adolescent can feel safe, comfortable and understood, making it easier for them to use therapy in a helpful way.

The therapist is usually very creative in delivering the intervention, as creativity is the medium children use the most to communicate. As such playing, drawing, coloring, building are ways to explore feelings and solve problems with the therapist.


  • Play Therapy

  • Talk Therapy

  • Family Therapy

  • Parent-Child Therapy

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

  • EMDR(eye movement desensitization & reprocessing)

Through Play Therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behaviour, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others. Play provides a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development.

Adolescent Therapy

Therapy Is Helpful for Teens

Middle school and high school teenagers can be some of the most emotionally turbulent times in one’s life. The laid-back days of childhood suddenly transform into packed days and busy nights as teens try to balance school, family, friends, sports and even work, all while trying to figure exactly who they are and where they fit into this world. This is a time where negative self-talk can have a terrible toll on one’s self-esteem and self-worth. There are many worries that come with each part of your life as a teen — How do I fit in better? Are mom and dad proud of me? How can I get to college? — so it’s no wonder that these moving parts can become overwhelming, scary and too much to handle on your own.

Benefits of Adolescent Teen Therapy

We understand how tough adolescence can be. From academic concerns to the stress of being perfect or well-liked, the teen years can be more than overwhelming. You might feel like you’re losing control, but we can help you feel in control and at peace again. Adolescent therapy will help you:

  •   feel happier and less stressed out

  •   become more confident and courageous in life

  •   feel more comfortable with who you are

  •   structure a more balanced schedule

  •   feel more connected and less lonely

  •   develop meaningful and healthy relationships

  •   understand romance

  •   get along better with family

  •   work through and cope with trauma

  •   make healthy choices

All of these benefits can lead to a better state of mental health now as well as provide you with the skills needed to maintain good mental health in the future.

What Every Child Needs for Good Mental Health

It is easy for parents to identify their child’s physical needs: nutritious food, warm clothes when it’s cold, bedtime at a reasonable hour. However, a child’s mental and emotional needs may not be as obvious. Good mental health allows children to think clearly, develop socially and learn new skills.  Additionally, good friends and encouraging words from adults are all important for helping children develop self-confidence, high self-esteem, and a healthy emotional outlook on life.

A child’s physical and mental health are both important.

Basics for a child’s good physical health:

  • Nutritious food

  • Adequate shelter and sleep

  • Exercise

  • Immunizations

  • Healthy living environment

Basics for a child’s good mental health:

  • Unconditional love from family

  • Self-confidence and high self-esteem

  • The opportunity to play with other children

  • Encouraging teachers and supportive caretakers

  • Safe and secure surroundings

  • Appropriate guidance and discipline

Give children unconditional love.

Love, security and acceptance should be at the heart of family life.  Children need to know that your love does not depend on his or her accomplishments.

Mistakes and/or defeats should be expected and accepted. Confidence grows in a home that is full of unconditional love and affection.

Nurture children’s confidence and self-esteem.

  • Praise Them – Encouraging children’s first steps or their ability to learn a new game helps them develop a desire to explore and learn about their surroundings. Allow children to explore and play in a safe area where they cannot get hurt.  Assure them by smiling and talking to them often. Be an active participant in their activities. Your attention helps build their self-confidence and self-esteem.

  • Set Realistic Goals – Young children need realistic goals that match their ambitions with their abilities. With your help, older children can choose activities that test their abilities and increase their self-confidence.

  • Be Honest – Do not hide your failures from your children. It is important for them to know that we all make mistakes. It can be very re-assuring to know that adults are not perfect.

  • Avoid Sarcastic Remarks – If a child loses a game or fails a test, find out how he or she feels about the situation. Children may get discouraged and need a pep talk. Later, when they are ready, talk and offer assurance.

  • Encourage children – To not only strive to do their best, but also to enjoy the process. Trying new activities teaches children about teamwork, self-esteem and new skills.

Make time for play!

Encourage Children to Play

To children, play is just fun. However, playtime is as important to their development as food and good care. Playtime helps children be creative, learn problem-solving skills and learn self-control.  Good, hardy play, which includes running and yelling, is not only fun, but helps children to be physically and mentally healthy.

Children Need Playmates

Sometimes it is important for children to have time with their peers.  By playing with others, children discover their strengths and weaknesses, develop a sense of belonging, and learn how to get along with others. Consider finding a good children’s program through neighbor’s, local community center’s, schools, or your local park and recreation department.

Parents Can be Great Playmates

Join the fun! Playing Monopoly or coloring with a child gives you a great opportunity to share ideas and spend time together in a relaxed setting.

Play for Fun

Winning is not as important as being involved and enjoying the activity. One of the most important questions to ask children is “Did you have fun?’’ not “Did you win?”

In our goal-oriented society, we often acknowledge only success and winning. This attitude can be discouraging and frustrating to children who are learning and experimenting with new activities. It’s more important for children to participate and enjoy themselves.

TV use should be monitored

Try not to use TV as a “baby-sitter” on a regular basis.  Be selective in choosing television shows for children. Some shows can be educational as well as entertaining.

School should be fun!

Starting school is a big event for children. “Playing school” can be a positive way to give them a glimpse of school life.

Try to enroll them in a pre-school, Head Start, or similar community program which provides an opportunity to be with other kids and make new friends. Children can also learn academic basics as well as how to make decisions and cope with problems.

Provide appropriate guidance and instructive discipline

Children need the opportunity to explore and develop new skills and independence. At the same time, children need to learn that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they are responsible for the consequences of their actions.

As members of a family, children need to learn the rules of the family unit. Offer guidance and discipline that is fair and consistent. They will take these social skills and rules of conduct to school and eventually to the workplace.

 Suggestions on Guidance and Discipline

  • Be firm, but kind and realistic with your expectations. Children’s development depends on your love and encouragement.

  • Set a good example. You cannot expect self-control and self-discipline from a child if you do not practice this behavior.

Criticize the behavior, not the child.  It is best to say, “That was a bad thing you did,” rather than “You are a bad boy or girl.”

Avoid nagging, threats and bribery. Children will learn to ignore nagging, and threats and bribes are seldom effective.

Give children the reasons “why” you are disciplining them and what the potential consequences of their actions might be.

Talk about your feelings.  We all lose our temper from time to time. If you do “blow your top,” it is important to talk about what happened and why you are angry.  Apologize if you were wrong!

Remember, the goal is not to control the child, but for him or her to learn self-control.

Provide a safe and secure home.

It’s okay for children to feel afraid sometimes.  Everyone is afraid of something at some point in their life. Fear and anxiety grow out of experiences that we do not understand. If your children have fears that will not go away and affect his or her behavior, the first step is to find out what is frightening them. Be loving, patient and reassuring, not critical. Remember:  the fear may be very real to the child.

Signs of Fear

Nervous mannerisms, shyness, withdrawal and aggressive behavior may be signs of childhood fears. A change in normal eating and sleeping patterns may also signal an unhealthy fear. Children who “play sick” or feel anxious regularly may have some problems that need attention. Fear of school can occur following a stressful event such as moving to a new neighborhood, changing schools, or after a bad incident at school. Children may not want to go to school after a period of being at home because of an illness.

When to seek help

Parents and family members are usually the first to notice if a child has problems with emotions or behavior. Your observations with those of teachers and other caregivers may lead you to seek help for your child. If you suspect a problem or have questions, consult your pediatrician or contact a mental health professional.

Warning Signs

The following signs may indicate the need for professional assistance or evaluation:

  • Decline in school performance

  • Poor grades despite strong efforts

  • Regular worry or anxiety

  • Repeated refusal to go to school or take part in normal children’s activities

  • Hyperactivity or fidgeting

  • Persistent nightmares

  • Persistent disobedience or aggression

  • Frequent temper tantrums

  • Depression, sadness or irritability

 Learn more about specific mental health conditions and children


Where to seek help

Information and referrals regarding the types of services that are available for children may be obtained from:

  • Mental health organizations, hotlines and libraries

  • Other professionals such as the child’s pediatrician or school counselor

  • Other families in the community

  • Family network organizations

  • Community-based psychiatric care

  • Crisis outreach teams

  • Education or special education services

  • Family resource centre’s and support groups

  • Health services

  • Protection and advocacy groups and organizations

  • Self-help and support groups


American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry –
Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health –
National Association of School Psychologists –
“What Every Child Needs for Good Mental Health” is one in a series of pamphlets on children and teen mental health. –


What is Women’s day really about?

It is a public holiday and it specifically seeks to celebrate women in society’s contribution to achieving freedom in South Africa – more specifically, to commemorate the actions of women in 1956 to contribute to SA’s drive for freedom and equality.

South Africa commemorates Women’s Month in August as a tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women. The Government of South Africa declared August women’s month and 9 August is celebrated annually as Women’s Day.


The first wellness day was implemented at M-Care Optima in 2015. The need for the day was identified by looking at the leave tendency  by personnel. It became evident that more attention had to be given to the general wellness of staff members in order for them to give quality care to the patients of M-Care Optima as well as to function optimally at their place of work. The day was well perceived by staff members and management. The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) committee therefore decided to continue with the project in 2016. It was decided that the day will be held twice a year in order to maintain the awareness and to enable the committee to monitor the changes made by staff members with regards to better their physical and mental health.

Planned dates for  Wellness days: 18 May 2016 and 30 November 2017 will be a “walk for fun” in the Optima park to get them realizing the fun of exercising and building team spirit.

The data obtained with each wellness day will serve as a guide to indicate staff members that may be at risk for the development of more serious conditions.

In order to monthly monitor identified at risk staff member, particular attention will be on blood pressure and blood glucose, seeing that both are seen as silent killers if not detected early and adequately monitored.

Identified at risk staff members will be monitored regularly by members of the OHS committee. If, however, any staff member feels that he or she is in need of above mentioned service, they can freely approach the two identified staff members (service is thus monthly as wall as prn). The measurements obtained will be recorded in the staff member’s wellness profile. Any staff members identified with serious problems will be revered to their General Practitioner or nearest clinic for treatment.

The wellness days will thus serve as a means to monitor the improvement of personnel’s general health. This will be visible in individual improvement of data obtained as well as in the number of at risk individuals identified with each wellness day. All wellness days are compulsory for personnel from all categories.

The events we sponsored by companies / individuals whose services are used by Optima on a regular basis. Sr E Swartz is mainly responsible for organizing this event with assistance from all OHS committee members and available personnel on the day. The kitchen is responsible to supply a healthy snack for everybody attending the event.

Written and compiled by: Sr E Swartz (Head of Occupational Health and Safety committee)


The Optima Psychiatric Hospital, a healing centre, situated in the Bloemfontein suburb, Hospitaalpark, accommodating 81 patients and is operated by a company consisting of nine partners, all Psychiatrists.

Contact Details

17 Addison St, Bloemfontein, 9301
Phone: 051 502 1800
Fax: 051 502 1810
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