Know the Signs of Mental Illness | Western Cape Government


Know the Signs of Mental Illness

9 June 2014

Mental health is not merely about the absence of mental illness, but rather the presence of mental health and well-being. Mental health is about how you feel about yourself, realising your own potential, how you relate to others and how you deal with the opportunities, difficulties and challenges of everyday life.

According to Nicky Abdinor, a registered clinical psychologist in Cape Town, our mental health is just as important as our physical health.

“In an age where we feel pressure to succeed and the pace of life keeps accelerating, stress, anxiety and depression are becoming more common and easily identified within society,” she said.

She said even though it’s difficult to determine which groups experience more mental illness, gender stereotypes still exist.  “Men often feel more pressured to be ‘strong’ and not ‘weak’. Women may express more sadness and men may express more irritability and anger,” she said.  

While the stigma of mental health has improved over the years, there are still a large number of people who are wary of disclosing their psychological health issues for fear of prejudice.

Abdinor says that while it’s good to be responsible citizens, we need to stop minimizing the importance of our mental health and start looking after our minds. 

Tips for Maintaining Your Health and Well-being:

  • Connect. Connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships.
  • Be active. You don't have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find the activity that you enjoy, and make it a part of your life.
  • Keep learning. Learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument or figure out how to fix your bike.
  • Give to others. Even the smallest act can count, whether it's a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental well-being and help you build new social networks.
  • Take notice. Be more aware of the present, including your feelings and thoughts, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness", and it can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.

View the Signs of Mental Illness.

There is Help for People with Mental Health Problems

Help is available from a wide variety of professionals, including counsellors, nursing practitioners, social workers, occupational therapists, psychologists, general practitioners and psychiatrists.

This may involve a range of treatments including occupational and behaviour interventions, your family, counselling and other 'talking therapies' and medications, to name but a few.

Such help can be obtained through your local clinic or general practitioner. Western Cape Government facilities that offer services to people with mental health problems are: Community Health Centres, District Hospitals and Psychiatric Hospitals.

Provincial Mental Health Services:

Groote Schuur Hospital     
Tel: 021 404 2164

Tygerberg Hospital             
Tel: 021 938 5454

Valkenberg Hospital            
Tel: 021 440 3167 /021 440 3111

Lentegeur Hospital              
Tel: 021 370 1111

Stikland Hospital  
Tel: 021 940 4400

Alexandra Hospital              
Tel: 021 503 5000 /021 503 5009