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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)


Viral hepatitis is one of the biggest global health threats of our time:

  • 34 million deaths a year
  • Causes two in every three liver cancer deaths
  • 290 million people living with viral hepatitis unaware

 Without finding the undiagnosed and linking them to care, millions will continue to suffer, and lives will be lost. On World Hepatitis Day, 28 July, we call on people from across the world to take action and raise awareness to find the “missing millions”.

But together we can eliminate viral hepatitis:

  • Global elimination strategy adopted in 2016 by World Health Organisation
  • A cure for hepatitis C and treatment and vaccine for hepatitis B exists



Proactive Management Is The Best Medicine For Mental Illness In The Workplace.

By Dr Ali Hamdulay

Mental illness in the workplace leads to decreased productivity, increased sick-related absenteeism, poor work quality, wasted materials and even compromised workplace safety. Despite the significant financial loss to employers and broad economy, many mental disorders fly below the radar in the workplace. A more proactive approach for managing mental illness in the workplace is a strategic imperative for South African employers.

Most employers tend to completely underestimate the financial impact of mental illness on their bottom-line. Increasing levels of mental illness drive up disability costs and demand more medical scheme spend. There is also a strong correlation between mental health disorders and substance abuse.

The South African Association of Social Workers in Private Practice estimates that 50% of workplace accidents is related to substance abuse. An undetected substance abuser can cost the employer 25% of that person’s wages.

However, in many workplaces, employees choose to suffer their mental illness in silence, fearing stigma should they speak out, while employers avoid asking too many questions, hoping mental health disorders will just disappear on their own.
Nevertheless, the latest Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) Report 2013-14 confirms that the prevalence of mental illness amongst medical schemes beneficiaries is rising. Total benefits per average beneficiary per month (pabpm) paid to psychiatrists increased by nearly 35% from 2011 to 2013. The total benefits paid to psychologists pabpm increased by 26% from 2011 to 2013, while the total benefits paid pabpm to mental health institutions from 2011 to 2013 increased by 58%.

The latest CMS data also shows that treatment for bipolar mood disorder (BMD) – a Prescribed Minimum Benefits condition and one of the top chronic conditions – increased by 173% from 2007 to 2012.

Unfortunately mental health issues in general are still poorly understood and often surrounded by prejudice, ignorance and fear. Many employees would ‘rather die’ than admit they suffer from a mental illness.

Despite increasing evidence of the connection between physical health and mental distress, when both mental and physical problems co-occur, doctors usually tend to focus on the physical problem. This often means the mental health issue remains untreated. Patients also ignore or play down mental illness. According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), less than 16% of sufferers receive treatment for mental illnesses. However, when mental health issues are addressed, many patients report improvements in their physical health.

With the World Health Organisation (WHO) predicting that depression will be the second highest cause of morbidity in the world by 2020, employers cannot afford to bury their heads in the sand and hope for the best.

A proactive approach for managing mental illness in the workplace is essential and it is heartening to see the increasing focus on proactively addressing the mental and emotional health of employees evident across both medical schemes and employers.

Like any chronic condition, mental illness can be managed successfully through disease management. Many companies have established specific programmes to manage depression, bipolar disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse amongst employees and medical scheme beneficiaries.

Some companies have also established Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) to support employees dealing with issues that impact on mental health. To improve the efficacy of these programmes, appropriate linkages between EAPs and other interventions, such as scheme-level disease management, are important.

A company medical scheme’s rising spend on mental illness can also be proactively reduced by encouraging use of the workplace EAP, a valuable preventative tool to address issues fueling stress and impacting on mental health, before more serious mental illness conditions develop.

Mental illness is rising, and incurring high social and economic costs. Soon it could overtake HIV/AIDS as the leading cause of illness in South Africa. It’s time to take proactive action that will help to manage the impact of mental illness in the workplace.

Sources: Dr Ali Hamdulay, MBChB (UCT), MFamMed (Cum Laude) (Stellenbosch), Postgraduate Certificate in Health Technology Assessment (Stellenbosch), Senior Leader Programme (UCT), is the General Manager: Health Provider and Policy Unit at Metropolitan Health,


26 June 2019

The United Nations General Assembly in 1987 decided to observe 26 June as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) selects themes for the International Day and launches campaigns to raise awareness about the global drug problem. Health is the ongoing theme of the world drug campaign.

The South African government and its partners are implementing the National Drug Master Plan, 2013-2017, which is a collective effort towards a South Africa that is free of drug abuse. The drug master plan is a single document covering all national concerns regarding drug control; summarising national policies authoritatively, and defining priorities and allocating responsibility for drug control efforts (United Nations Drug Control Programme). The National Drug Master Plan prioritises strategies on demand reduction, supply reduction and harm reduction.

The Master Plan serves as the country’s blueprint for preventing and reducing alcohol and substance abuse and its associated social and economic consequences on South African society, and builds on the foundation laid down by government’s Programme of Action on alcohol and substance abuse.

The key outcomes of the five-year National Drug Master Plan are:

  • reduction of the bio-socio-economic impact of substance abuse and related illnesses on the South African population
  • ability of all people in South Africa to deal with problems related to substance abuse within communities
  • recreational facilities and diversion programmes that prevent vulnerable populations from becoming substance dependents
  • reduced availability of substance dependence-forming drugs and alcoholic beverages
  • development and implementation of multi-disciplinary and multi-modal protocols and practices for integrated diagnosis and treatment of substance dependence and co-occurring disorders and for funding such diagnosis and treatment.

Harmonization and enforcement of laws and policies to facilitate effective governance of the alcohol and drug supply chain.

The Prevention and Treatment of Drug Dependency Act (Act 20 of 1992) and the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act (Act 70 of 2008), provides for the establishment of programmes for the prevention and treatment of drug dependency.

The Central Drug Authority was established as an advisory body in terms of the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act (Act No. 70 of 2008) and is mandated to assist in the fight against substance abuse in the country.

Alcohol abuse is a complex socio-economic issue that requires a multi-stakeholder and integrated approach towards a drug free society, captured in the National Drug Master Plan. Creating awareness of dangers of the substance abuse in society and effecting behavioral change are integral parts of the National Drug Master Plan.

What you can do

Government calls on all South Africans to join hands in the implementation of the national programme of action against substance and alcohol abuse.

  • Community support is extremely important to prevent, treat, rehabilitate and accept those addicted to substances. Help break the stigma and promote faster recovery.
  • Be a good role model and empower young people to deal with life challenges to buffer substance abuse.
  • Be a messenger – provide factual information on the negative socio-economic effects of substance abuse to bring about behavioral changes.
    • The carnage on South Africa’s roads can be reduced drastically if adults drink responsibly.
    • Don’t drink and drive – Arrive Alive!
    • Celebrate year end festivities soberly and responsibly:  Don’t turn a night out into a nightmare.
    • Say NO to drugs.
  • Partner with government volunteer and support rehabilitation programmes to increase access to information for affected individuals and communities.


  • There is a burden of “secondary risks”, including injury, premature non-natural deaths, foetal alcohol syndrome (FASD).
  • Research indicates that social costs of alcohol related trauma and accidents far exceed those of other countries and that intoxication was a major factor in road accidents. According to the South African Revenue Service the known direct cost of drug abuse in 2005 was roughly R 101 000 million.
  • The social cost of illicit drug use was calculated using international data and is approximately R 136 380 million annually.
  • The relationship between alcohol and illegal drugs, crime, and violence is both direct and complex. In 2007, more than 47% of victims of homicide tested positively for alcohol at the time of death. Alcohol makes people vulnerable to crime.
  • 4 per cent (2.2 million) of the South African population used cannabis in 2004 as against the global norm of 4 per cent; 8.9 per cent (2.5 million) used cannabis in 2005/6 and 3.2 million used in 2008, an increase of nearly 20 per cent.


Prevent elder abuse. June 15th is World Elder Abuse Prevention Day

Elder abuse is a significant public health problem. Each year, hundreds of thousands of adults over the age of 60 are abused, neglected, or financially exploited. Elder abuse, including neglect and exploitation, is experienced by 1 out of every 10 people, ages 60 and older, who live at home. This statistic is likely an underestimate because many victims are unable or afraid to disclose or report the violence.

The following six types of maltreatment occur among persons over the age of 60.

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Neglect
  • Abandonment
  • Financial abuse

Working to Prevent Elder Abuse

CDC works to prevent violence before it occurs. Our prevention activities include:

  • Documenting the extent of the problem.
  • Conducting research on the factors that put people at risk or that protect them from violence.
  • Creating and evaluating the effectiveness of prevention programs.
  • Helping state and local partners plan, implement, and evaluate prevention programs.
  • Conducting research on the effective adoption and dissemination of prevention strategies.

The elderly are particularly vulnerable to being exploited or abused in several ways. It is a problem that stems from biological, psychological, societal and financial issues related to the abused and the abuser.

According to the American Psychological Association, about 2 million seniors are victims of financial, psychological, and physical abuse as well as other forms of abuse (1).

Also, for every report of elderly abuse, five others go unreported. This means that estimates of elder abuse are likely even higher the 2 million figure.

According to the National Committee For The Prevention Of Elder Abuse, about 5 percent of the older population has suffered from some kind of abuse. As the population of seniors in the U.S. continues to expand, so will the issues related to elder abuse in our country.

In order to prevent the victimization of our elders in society, there are many things you can do. By informing yourself on the topic of elder abuse and actively raising awareness for this issue, this will help curb neglect or abuse occurring to elders. It will also force nursing home staff and management to become more accountable for the conditions and caretakers they provide, which will lower rates of abuse.

Ways To Reduce Elder Abuse

There are various potential causes that lead to elder abuse, such as under staffing of facilities or personal problems among caretakers. However, by understanding the ways to reduce rates of elder abuse overall, this will help prevent elder abuse from happening.

Steps you can take to prevent abuse of the elderly includes the following:

  • Avoid isolating elders. This can cause depression, sadness and loneliness that will increase the chances of neglect or abuse.
  • Stay in touch with your elders.Family members can help care for the elderly person and be on the lookout for changes that may suggest abuse.
  • Keep elders active. By staying active in old age, this can prolong an elder’s life and decrease the chances that they will be vulnerable to elder abuse.
  • Encourage elders to attend religious services and community activities.This can help them stay in touch with things that have been important to them throughout their life.
  • Don’tallow elders to live with someone who is known to be abusive or violent. Once a person has a history of violence, they are likely to repeat that behavior again, especially when someone is vulnerable.
  • Be wary of caregivers or friends needing financial help, or those who have issues with illicit drugs.These are people who may manipulate an elder and steal or mismanage finances.
  • Elders should be aware of their own financial affairs.Elders may require the help of a trusted relative or friend to manage their money, but ultimately they should be the sole one in control of finances.
  • Don’t allow a caretaker or family member to impulsively alter an elder’s will, or add their names to financial accounts or land titles.These are people who put an elder at risk for financial exploitation.
  • Inform elders to be wary of solicitations from the telephone, internet or mail.These are likely to be scams designed to steal an elderly person’s money.

If you or someone you love is concerned that they have become a victim of any type of elder abuse, including financial abuse, discuss these concerns with a trusted family member, attorney, bank manager, clergy or close friend. If you are seeking help now, then you should consider a legal case review where you can tell your story and see what help is available to you.

There are also services provided by Adult Protective Services that can help determine if elder abuse is occurring. Find an Eldercare Provider today by calling you local social worker for assistance in making a informed choice for your loved one .

How can I protect the senior in my life from becoming a victim of abuse?

By identifying the risk factors of abuse for an elderly loved one in your life, you will stand a higher chance of preventing any form of abuse — before it even occurs.

There are various steps you can take to keep your loved one safe. These include the following:

  • If you are a caregiver yourself, look for trusted people who can provide additional care when you need a break to avoid becoming overly stressed or overwhelmed by your care-giving duties.
  • Try not to become overburdened. If you are overburdened when caring for an ailing relative, you are more likely to become a perpetrator of elder abuse yourself.
  • If your loved one is in a nursing facility, stay involved in the process. Observe for any signs of elder abuse or evidence that they are receiving adequate care from the staff.
  • Be aware of any changes in your loved one’s appearance or mood, as this can indicate they are suffering from abuse.
  • Provide your loved one with tips on how they can avoid becoming the victim of solicitors.
  • Consider therapy or a support group if you are feeling burdened by caring for your loved one.
  • Encourage your elderly loved one to be wary when partaking in financial decisions. Tell them to seek the advice of a lawyer, a trusted family member or friend before signing any important documents.

If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of elder abuse, talk to them directly or to the supervisor or medical director at the nursing home facility in which they reside. By encouraging them to open up to you about any concerns they may have about the care they are receiving, you will be prepared to assist them in getting out of the shroud of abuse.


Male students are a forgotten demographic with their own mental health needs.

Millions of young people will shortly be commencing studies at universities and colleges across the country. This is a time of great hope, opportunity and excitement for most students. However some students face specific challenges which can result in poor mental health.

Indeed, the National College Health Assessment indicates that around one in four students suffer from a diagnosable mental illness, while a much greater proportion report feeling overwhelmed (around 70 percent) or very lonely (around 60 percent). This demands concerted action.

Gendered Differences

Men and women on campus experience mental health issues in different proportions. Women have higher rates of depression, anxiety and eating disorders. In contrast, men have higher rates of suicide, substance abuse, and are less likely to use official mental health services.

The state of the youth and mental health crisis in South Africa 2018

SADAG has released these figures:

  • 31.5% of teen suicide attempts required medical treatment;
  • 17.6% of teens had considered attempting suicide;
  • 1 in 4 university students had been diagnosed with depression;
  • Over 20% of 18-year-old’s had one or more suicide attempts;
  • According to the WHO, half of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age but most cases are undetected and untreated;
  • Male youth die by suicide more than female youth;
  • 1 in 6 teens are/will be addicted to cannabis.

Throughout this year we have heard of more and more university students who don’t cope under the pressure and aren’t able to cope with their problems, which has resulted in many suicides on campus. University students experience depression, stress and anxiety every day – sometimes without any knowledge they are suffering from a mental illness.

Clinical psychologist and SADAG board member Zamo Mbele says, “Unfortunately this has led to many suicides which we can’t afford as a caring society.

“Depression does not discriminate” 

Depression does not discriminate – it can affect any race, age, gender or religion. It’s important that parents, teachers, grandparents, loved ones and entire communities know that depression can affect young people too, even a 6-year-old child.

It is important to know the signs and symptoms of depression, the suicide warning signs and how to get help before it is too late.

“From the hundreds of calls that SADAG receives every day, children, teens and young adults are dealing with many problems they feel they can’t handle,” says operations director Cassey Chambers.

The main triggers include relationship problemsfamily issuesabuseloss or grief and trauma. Other contributing factors include exam stresssubstance abusebullyinglearning difficultiesfinancial issues and chronic illness.

“The youth are not equipped with enough coping skills or support structures to handle the kind of problems that they have to deal with every day”, says Chambers.

By creating awareness and information we can educate more people on how to help young people in SA and get them help before it is too late.

Exam stress

“With the matric final exams about to start, as well as all other exams for other grades and at universities – students will be dealing with increased pressure and stress, on top of everything they have been dealing with throughout the year,” says Zamo Mbele.

The old African proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child is no truer than with mental health now. Empowering teachers, parents, grandparents, churches, friends and family about the issues of youth and mental health is critical if we want to be able to get young people help before it is too late, and help prevent youth suicides.

According to Celebrity and Youth Ambassador, Penny Lebyane, “Mental Health is currently a great challenge for the youth and we need ways to help them understand how the mind works and what help is available. Mental health is where it all starts and can end.”

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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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