For The People

SADAG offers tips to manage Anxiety & Mental Health during COVID-19

SADAG is aware that during this time many people might feel even more anxious or stressed. While we don’t want to add any further to the panic or hysteria, we want to offer help and support to so many South Africans who feel scared, confused, anxious and overwhelmed. SADAG Helplines are a critical service to many, and since the development of the Coronavirus, SADAG has received many calls from people who are already feeling stressed and anxious.

COVID-19 is causing anxiety, panic, and unrest across the globe with new guidelines and recommendations being published and changed frequently, its dominating press headlines, its all over the TV and radio, it is what everyone is talking about – it is hard to escape it. Everyone reacts differently to the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and it may be extremely stressful for many, especially those who already have a mental health issue, but even those without a predisposing illness feel stressed and anxious during this time – it is completely normal to feel that way considering the situation. Fear, panic and anxiety about the Coronavirus can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. It’s important that you, the people you care about, and your community learn new ways to cope and manage the stress.

“It’s natural to feel worried and overwhelmed about our safety and well-being. So if you’re feeling concerned about the Coronavirus, you’re not alone. Yet, for some of us, this concern can quickly grow into anxiety, even panic. Hearing about shortages of hand sanitizer, people stocking their homes with food, and the number of deaths worldwide only fuels this fire.” says Clinical Psychologist, Dessy Tzoneva.

For many people living with a mental health issue, the current situation may be worsening or intensifying symptoms, so it is important to take extra care during this time with more support and self care steps to ensure your mental wellness.

If you have a compromised immune system or a medical condition you’re worried about, speak to your doctor for more specific guidance on your treatment.

If you are in therapy, speak to your therapist about alternative or online sessions. If you have a scheduled appointment with a Psychologist or Psychiatrist, do not cancel due to fear of exposure. Call the practice and ask what their new protocol or alternative plans are as many are offering online sessions.

Avoid searching online, media sourcing or having conversations throughout the day around the virus as this will cause increased anxiety that may lead to panic. Again – filter what you are reading, watching and exposing yourself too, especially since it can be very negative and scary. Try to set specific times to check for updates – but rather spend more time that could be adding value to your wellness such as doing things that you enjoy, doing more relaxation and stress relieving activities.

Don’t use smoking, alcohol or other drugs to deal with your emotions. If you feel overwhelmed, talk to your mental health professional, counsellor, family or friend. Have a plan, where to go to and how to seek help for physical and mental health needs if required.

Use online tools, online forums, helpful websites and online support to help you through this time – try a new app that helps to manage your sleep, or provides mindfulness techniques, listen to a meditation podcast, etc. And if you need ideas – speak to a friend, ask your family or visit

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