On October 4th, the ALA community engaged in a Health & Wellness Day aimed at raising awareness around mental, physical and emotional wellbeing for students and staffulty.
Non-academic activities were greeted with enthusiasm. There was yoga, aerobics, a medical checkup and color run.
The AL for Health network set up dedicated booths for the community to discuss how to support each other with mental illness.
Student volunteers coordinated activities and every ALA community member was welcomed to draw, colour, paint and share encouraging positive quotes.
“Wellness Days present a unique opportunity for students to be educated and imparted with practical tips to nurture their holistic health,” says Laurene Amoit, AL for Health Sector Lead.
“With all our daily stresses, it is vital that students are equipped with knowledge on how to take care of themselves. The pandemic has highlighted the need for individuals to think about not just their physical health but also their mental health. “
COVID-119 has had a major impact on people’s mental health.
“World Mental Health Day is globally observed on October 10th. In South Africa, the month of October is Mental Health Awareness month. We cannot and should not ignore mental health in our communities,” urges Mandisa Mtembu, Head of Department for Health & Wellness at ALA.
Some groups, including health and other frontline workers, students, people living alone, and those with pre-existing mental health conditions, have been particularly affected.
The World Health Organization (WHO) shared key insights about why quality mental health care for all needs to be a reality across the globe:
The health argument
- Close to one billion people have a mental disorder and anyone, anywhere, can be affected.
- Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. Globally, it is estimated that 5% of adults suffer from depression.
- Globally, one in seven 10-19-year-olds experience a mental disorder. Half of all such disorders start by age 14 years but most are undetected and untreated.
- One in every 100 deaths is by suicide. It is the fourth leading cause of death for young people aged 15-29 years.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has had a considerable impact on people’s mental health.
The good news
- Some of the most common mental health conditions, depression and anxiety, can be treated with talking therapies, medication, or a combination of these.
- Generalist health workers can be trained to diagnose and treat mental health conditions.
- Regular health checks of people with severe mental disorders can prevent premature death.
- The quality of life of people living with conditions such as autism and dementia can be greatly improved when their caregivers receive appropriate training.
- The rights of people living with mental health conditions can be protected and promoted through mental health legislation, policy, development of affordable, quality community-based mental health services and the involvement of people with lived experience.
The Wellness team at ALA is dedicated to creating a safe, healthy and holistically balanced experience for staff and staffulty. A special thanks to the organizers, individuals and departments who coordinated to make the day refreshing and a success.