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You know exercise is good for you, but do you know how well? From boosting your mood to improving your sex life, find out how exercise can improve your life.

Want to feel better, have more energy and even add years to your life? Just exercise.

The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. Everyone benefits from exercise, regardless of age, sex or physical ability.

Need more convincing to get moving? Check out these seven ways exercise can lead to a happier, healthier you.

1. Exercise controls weight

Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn.

Regular trips to the gym are great, but don’t worry if you can’t find a large chunk of time to exercise every day. Any amount of activity is better than none at all. To reap the benefits of exercise, just get more active throughout your day — take the stairs instead of the elevator or rev up your household chores. Consistency is key.

2. Exercise combats health conditions and diseases

Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Regular exercise helps prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, many types of cancer, arthritis and falls. It can also help improve cognitive function and helps lower the risk of death from all causes.

3. Exercise improves mood

Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A gym session or brisk walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier, more relaxed and less anxious.

You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.

4. Exercise boosts energy

Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance.

Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle daily chores.

5. Exercise promotes better sleep

Struggling to snooze? Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster, get better sleep and deepen your sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to go to sleep.

6. Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life

Do you feel too tired or too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy? Regular physical activity can improve energy levels and physical appearance, which may boost your sex life.

But there’s even more to it than that. Regular physical activity may enhance arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise.

7. Exercise can be fun … and social!

Exercise and physical activity can be enjoyable. It gives you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting.

So, take a dance class, hit the hiking trails or join a soccer team. Find a physical activity you enjoy, and just do it. Bored? Try something new, or do something with friends.

The bottom line on exercise

Exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, boost your health and have fun. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Examples include running, walking or swimming. Fit in strength training for all the major muscle groups at least twice a week by lifting free weights, using weight machines or doing body-weight exercises.

Space out your activities throughout the week. If you want to lose weight, meet specific fitness goals or have even more benefits, you may need to increase your physical activity time.

Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you haven’t exercised for a long time, have chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis, or you have any concerns.

Source: Mayo Clinic

By Eloke-Young Splendor

Relaxation is an essential element in the life of every man, as he tries to capture the pure joy of discovering the pleasures the world has to offer. In a world, where relaxation and food has become an inevitable means to survival, accessing a nice location for relaxation as well as sumptuous meal is a great necessity.

Seychelles continues to portray Africa as the true destination for tourism as it magnifies its glamorous travel destinations as well as relaxation areas; of which Bird Island Seychelles represents. Bird Island can be described as the northernmost island of Seychelles. It is located at a strategic part in the country, 28 miles from Denis Island on the edge of the coast of Seychelles, specifically where the ocean drops to over 2000 meters.  Its name Bird Island, originates from its spectacular colony of around 700,000 pairs of sooty tern that nest on the island.

This picturesque sea-side is occupied by diverse creatures which include about 700,000 pairs of sooty tern that nest on the island.   This Island also hosts the heaviest turtle in the world as it makes the island its nesting abode. It can be described as one of Seychelles most loved and treasured locations because of the luxury of comfort it provides; which include twenty-four comfortable bungalows, excellent beaches, a reputation for good food, a friendly atmosphere complemented with fabulous spots for diving, deep sea fishing, and comfortable points to clearly observe nature. The Island is inhabited by a colony of terns, kingfishers and swallows that you can observe at your leisure, thereby giving you a sight-filled journey.

Bird Island Seychelles gives its visitors an opportunity to experience and observe nature; as it pulls them away from some artificial leisure experiences such as air-conditioning, phones, televisions, pools, cars, and even daily newspapers, thereby giving them strong reasons to appreciate nature. It is a destination that allows its visitors explore the fullness of nature without resistance.

The birds that can be found in this location include; White fairy terns, lesser noddys, Seychelles sunbirds, common mynas, Madagascan Red Fodies and so on. These birds add to the untold beauty of the island. The Island’s ecolodge is a comfortable base from where you can watch free-roaming Aldabra tortoises and preening, red Madagascar fodies.  It literally brings other creatures close to your dwelling. Another interesting fact about this island is that all rats have been eradicated, thereby making it the safest environment for recreation. This touristy charming location is renowned for its perfect blend of hospitality, relaxation and simplicity in its most natural form.

This island also provides sumptuous meals, nourishing fruits and also allows for Citizens to cultivate food and vegetables. So expect to see small organic farms where pumpkins, papayas and tomatoes are grown for the lodge’s restaurant. This is a recommended holiday destination with a reputation for its delicious cuisine.

After a great tour on this beautiful island, one is filled with the desire to bring back some of the beautiful creatures and materials that adorn the Island. Unfortunately, nothing can be brought back, everything should be left where it is except your photos and the memories gotten from the beautiful Island.  Bird Island can be said to be one of the “must visits” in Seychelles because it has more affordable and reasonable prices compared to other islands.

What to Bring on your Trip:

You might probably have your own packing list; nevertheless, this list is not cast in stone, so feel free to create your own list as you enjoy your journey to this beautiful Island. For women, a summer or evening dress is always the appropriate attire. For during the day, light, summery, airy clothing is recommended, as the high humidity can quickly cause you to sweat.                                          

Other items include, Sunscreen with a high factor of protection, hat, sunglasses, comfortable sports shoes for walking and hiking to various beaches or through the Vallée de Mai on Praslin. For La Digue, a torch (or better yet a headlamp) will assist you through that route.

Taking a trip to Bird Island Seychelles will leave you in deep awe and an overwhelming admiration of nature as well as life; it might as well prove that to travel is to discover that everyone is sometimes wrong about other countries.

By Donah Mbabazi

Any nation that fails to educate its girls or employ its women and allow them to maximise their potential is doomed to fall behind in the global economy. Imagine if you have a team and you don’t let half the team play, that’s stupid! That makes no sense.– Barack Obama, 44th President of U.S.A on his maiden visit to Kenya in 2015.

 

For a very long time, women were consigned to the back, especially when it came to key issues, such as decision-making, and this led to infamous narratives like ‘women belong in the kitchen’, a statement that will drive any feminist nutty trying to explain just how wrong that is. 

There has been progress towards the equal representation of men and women in decision-making in the past ten years. According to statistics from UN Women, the percentage of women in parliament has nearly doubled in the last 20 years. As of January 2017, 10 women were serving as Head of State and nine were serving as Head of Government.

Rwanda has, for over a decade, been topping the global list of countries with the most female political parliamentarians. That’s mainly due to the country’s legally set quotas, with the Constitution stipulating that at least thirty per cent (30%) of Deputies in the Lower House of Parliament must be women.

Women in Saudi Arabia voted for the very first time in 2015 and were even allowed to run for public office. So, are women better off staying home to cook and knit? Can they make decisions on what is right for their home, or on a bigger scale, nation?

The latter is evident, with the past couple of strides serving as defining moments for women in the political sphere, with more of them stepping up and assuming key leadership positions.

From Rwanda’s Louise Mushikiwabo serving as the Secretary-General of Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, to Sahle-Work Zewde, Ethiopia’s first female president, to Ilhan Omar, the first Somali American elected to the United States Congress.

What does this mean for the gender equality drive?

Olive Uwamariya, a woman activist, says women shining in big political roles means society is finally accepting that the world cannot be governed by men only.

She emphasises that women’s empowerment cannot be achieved if women are not seated at the table where decisions are made.

“When there are more women in decision making positions, it means we are likely to have laws and policies that benefit women, children and families because women understand the issues families and children face. These policies are also likely to have a positive impact on their lives,” Uwamariya says.

Political participation and representation is also a right, it is not a favour, the woman activist highlights.

“Women make up half of the population so it’s only logical to have them in leadership,” she says.

Amina Umuhoza, a feminist, says a woman assuming a top position in politics is proof that those who thought that women only deserved to be in the kitchen cooking were completely wrong, because women are exceeding expectations, and that is just the beginning.

There are plenty of things that kept women behind, such as gender-based violence and the different cultural stereotypes, Umuhoza points out.

“It is this that stopped our mothers and sisters from dreaming beyond getting married and raising kids. This mentality killed plenty of passion, potential politicians, innovators and change makers,” she says.

The proud feminist is, however, keen on how the world is yet to change, thanks to the evolving traditions that women are happily embracing.

“Things have now changed, women know their rights and they are able to fight for them, this is why we are reaping the fruits. Imagine what an inspiration these women are going to be for the young girls, they are going to grow up watching what their mothers at the forefront are doing,” Umuhoza says.

A man’s view

Iréné Mizero, Chairman and CEO at Mizero Care Organisation, is not a huge supporter of feminism, however, he believes that when it comes to women and leadership, society can always hope for the best because of the natural abilities women possess.

“Women have this natural thing for transparency and persistence; these two qualities are relevant when it comes to contributing to the changes we want to see in society,” Mizero says.

He adds, “Having top female leaders is a great moment for the world to test its innovations and creativity towards solving the problems that are existing in society. We look forward to testing those remedies that women have on the tray, and there is nothing to fear because Rwanda is proof of the positive changes that women have built.”

Mizero goes on to applaud the Rwandan and Ethiopian Governments for holding the flag high when it comes to women political representation, saying that this means that doors are open for women and that there is a significant change in societal attitudes, thinking and rules of engagement between women and men.

“When women are at the forefront in key decision making positions, it increases innovative solutions to governance and helps to tackle problems that women face, such as sexual harassment and gender-based violence,” he notes.

“Women leaders are capable of bringing the change society wants. The world should replicate Rwanda and Ethiopia’s approach because it is proving to be successful,” Mizero says.

Why a woman has a place in politics

Studies show higher numbers of women in parliament generally contribute to stronger attention to women’s issues. Women’s political participation is a fundamental prerequisite for gender equality and genuine democracy. It facilitates women’s direct engagement in public decision-making and is a means of ensuring better accountability to women. When more women hold top positions in politics, everyone benefits.

Bertin Ganza Kanamugire, a gender activist, says the changing face of society is enabling women to acknowledge their ability and the full transformation of women’s capacity.

Having women in these top positions gives them value and helps them to unveil their potential, Kanamugire says, noting that it was the wrong beliefs and fixed mind-set that society had on women that held them back.

With women in higher political positions, Kanamugire says other women are well represented and the challenges they face can be advocated for.

“When women challenge themselves by assuming top political roles, it helps them realise that they can also do what they never thought they would. Men, on the other hand, realise that women are no lower than them,” Kanamugire says.

An article published on the website of Women Deliver, a global advocate that champions gender equality, shows that achieving gender equality in political participation has both intrinsic and instrumental value.

Women in political office prioritise efforts to advance rights, promote equality, and leverage opportunity for women and girls. It’s a matter of human rights and it’s a matter of good governance, the article reads.

It goes on to explain that the composition of executives and legislatures also affects the quality of laws and influences the extent of their application. Evidence demonstrates that women leaders are more likely to respond to public needs and tend to cooperate across party lines. Historically, this is not the case for men in power.

“To accelerate their political careers, women need communication, connection and community. There is need to increase both the number and the influence of women in political leadership positions, optimising the power of communication and connection to build new communities of knowledge for women political leaders everywhere. Progress happens by convening women political leaders who have the drive and the influence to create positive change,” the article reads.

Adapted from Rwanda’s Leading Daily, The New Times.

The case to lose weight and get healthy is rooted in a better life and not just better looks. People all over the world are presented with different fad diets and exercise regimens that are supposed to help them lose weight.

Weight loss sure has lots of benefits that transcends from being healthier generally to being able to fit into that size x dress you bought for a party.

While the benefits of weight loss are thrown to us via books, social media and even well-meaning friends or relatives, people hardly talk about the down side of losing weight.  

Surprised? I was too.

Now let’s see 7 not so fun things that happen to our body when we lose weight.

1. You May Develop Sagging Skin and Stretch Marks

Loose, sagging skin and stretch marks is the product of losing lots of weight too fast. Registered dietitian nutritionist Malina Linkas Malkani, creator of the Wholitarian™ Lifestyle, told INSIDER that this happens because the skin isn’t able to shrink as quickly as the body.

She advises that those who want to lose weight should “focus on slow, steady weight loss, at a rate of about one to two pounds per week to give the skin time to shrink along with the body.

She also recommends implementing resistance exercises to prevent the loss of lean muscle mass. According to Prevention, building muscle could help prevent sagging skin during weight loss as well as eating more produce, using sunscreen, and using collagen-based serums or retinoid.

When weight loss does happen quickly and there is a lot of loose sagging skin, some people opt for surgery to remove it. It’s worth noting that the process will result in visible scars and will take a few weeks for recovery, according to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery.

Moreover, it also depends on the exercises that you engage in; so always consult your fitness expert or gym instructor to make a workout plan accordingly.

2. Your Taste Perceptions Could Change

“It’s not an act of growing out of anything, it’s that your interest in food is hormonal,” and ghrelin secreted from the stomach makes you very hungry, and you find different food more appealing.”

This theory is supported by a study that found people who had lost weight via bariatric surgery had a change in taste. According to Time, almost 87% of patients reported this change post-surgery, and half of those people said food didn’t taste as good. Those who had dulled taste buds also lost more weight than their peers who reported their tastes sharpened.

That’s because of hormonal changes that influence how taste receptors relay information to the brain, according to Health.

3. You Might Feel Colder

This common weight loss complaint has to do with your metabolic rate and hormone changes.

“Your body is going to lower your metabolic rate when you lose weight to try to conserve energy,” and in conserving energy, it doesn’t have a lot of extra calories to keep you warm.”

Another reason you might feel colder is because you no longer have fat acting as an insulator. Shape reports that without that extra layer your body becomes more sensitive to temperature changes as you lose weight.

You might consider investing in new blankets as you burn those calories.

4. May Also Affect Your Skin

Sure, your diet may keep your body slim, but it may impact your skin health, too. The foods you eat decide what will show up on your skin. Poor nourishment may lead to break-outs, acne, dull skin, fine lines, et al. The idea is to add foods that are rich in antioxidants that help block skin damage, especially from the sun.

5. May Cause Constipation

If you are following a certain diet, your constipation maybe related to the dietary changes you have made. So, it is always good to add up on more fibre-rich foods, including whole grains, salads, raw fruits and vegetables, et al, to get your bowels moving. Also, it is important to keep yourself hydrated all the time, which helps keep constipation at bay.

6. This May Also Affect Menstrual Cycle

The stress placed on your body during weight loss could also impact your period. According to VeryWell, the more weight you lose and the faster you lose it, the more likely your period will be affected.

Caroline Apovian, director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at Boston Medical Center, explained that this happens because your body thinks it’s starving hormonally.

“Lectin will shut off your menstrual period because your body thinks it is starving and it’s not healthy for women who are starving to have a pregnancy at that time,” she told INSIDER. “So your body doesn’t conserve your period so that you don’t get pregnant and really have a problem.”

It is always good to consult a dietitian to construct a healthy diet plan for you to lose weight in a proper way without having to affect your monthly cycles.

7. You May Have Trouble Sleeping

The relationship between sleep and food is complicated. Not only does what and when you eat affect sleep, but sleep also affects your food choices, NBC’s Better reports.

The basics of sleep come down to a chemical called adenosine, which builds up in your body before a rise in melatonin, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Although we know that sleep is key to successful dieting and weight loss, it might be harder to sleep during weight loss because of dietary changes.

“If you want to sleep well at night you want your tryptophan levels to go up, and the way to do that is to have a little carbohydrate with protein and, that will increase tryptophan levels in the brain and melatonin. When you don’t eat enough or you’re eating less calories, that hormonal balance changes and so you’re not lulled to sleep instead you’re activated, and your body is looking for food.”

To have a healthy sleep at night, make sure you are loading up on carbohydrates along with protein in order to make your tryptophan levels go up.

Side effects aside, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is important for your overall health.

 

Emily DiNuzzo

In recent times, women all over the world are beginning to pay a closer attention to philanthropy since they have realized that this does not only put smiles on faces but also affords them the opportunity to become agents of empowerment to the society at large.

The quest to make the world a better place, is currently spreading among women from different works of life who are going the extra mile to be a part of the new generation world changers.

In Philippine, Nanette Medved-Po a former film actress, TV host and model began her journey into philanthropy when she sighted an opportunity to make a difference using her wealth and fame.

The newness about philanthropy is in the modern perception that surrounds it, which is the idea that wealth and fame can be used as tools to promote good cause for the welfare of others.

According to John Gardner, “Wealth is not new. Neither is charity. But the idea of using private wealth imaginatively, constructively, and systematically to attack the fundamental problems of mankind is new.”

Nanette is not the only woman in the world with the desire to help mankind but her system of philanthropy is unique in its own way, and for this course she has given up so much to see that many little faces are lighted up in hope.

Nanette was born in 1971 in Hawaii, USA, her father is a Russian and her mother a Chinese. Although Nanette spent her growing up years traveling throughout Asia, she had most of her primary and secondary education in Holy Family Academy in Angeles City of Philippine.

She proceeds to Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts to further her studies in Finance and Entrepreneurship and later graduated as Summa Cum Laude in 1998.

This former actress-model became a social entrepreneur when she saw the possibility to leverage her popularity as an avenue to do good. The idea started to play in her mind after she had an encounter with a crowd of fans. She was at a Christmas parade to promote her film and she saw a throng of people, young and old, approaching to hold her on a pedestal. This reminded her of her character ‘Darna’ which she played in the Pinoy superhero, as a village girl who one night received superpowers from a shooting star and she became a guardian of the needy and a force of good over evil, Nanette thought it would not be a bad idea if she became the ‘Darna’ that the world needs and felt she should do the same.

Nanette had witnessed great poverty while working before she went on to further her education and began to travel around the country. She observed the great successes that was achieved in the business community and yet there was so much struggles and delay in the non-profit sector in terms of fund raising because they put more focus on impact than other aspects.

So she thought it would be better to create a hybrid that combines both the discipline of the private sector in terms of funds generation and the passion for humanitarian impact expressed by the non-profit sector, and then rather than dividend that the private sector gives out to shareholders, it is rather used towards a social good whether it is the environment or in education or in employees, or whatever it is.

After so much thought and plans she founded Generation Hope, a manufacturing company that produces and sells bottled water called Hope in a Bottle. However, Generation Hope is not like every other manufacturing company because unlike other profitable organizations, all of its proceeds are donated to Friends of Hope, a nonprofit that was also founded by Nanette, which uses the funds to build public school classrooms in different places in Philippine.

Before she ventured into the act, she had no business experience especially in consumer goods, and no one was expecting that from her but with the passion that was borne out of a sincere desire she was able to bring Generation Hope to its current position.

This unique idea and act of Nannette transported her to pages of Forbes Magazine’s 2017 not as a Celebrity but as a Hope Giver.

Generation Hope is still fulfilling its mission to date, and in mid-2017 the company sold over 9 million bottles and built 37 classrooms that have benefited more than 7,310 students.

In pursuit of her company’s mission which is to build more public school classrooms, Nanette diversified the company to manufacture other products such as Hope in a Coconut and Hope in a Shirt.

The Hope in a Coconut comes in the form of Vita Coco coconut water, in which five pesos from every pack goes to Filipino coconut farmers. While the Hope in a Shirt is a line of T-shits made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles and designed with artwork by actress and visual artist Solenn Heussaff, in order to attract the attention of buyers.

She is among the three Filipinos listed amongst the current record of 40 of Asia’s profound humanitarians selected from fourteen countries across Asia Pacific. She has also been recognized in other platforms including the Forbes “Heroes of Philanthropy”.

Nanette is married to Christopher Po the couple got married in June 1999 in South Africa and their marriage is blessed with 2 children Ganden and Joss Dechen.

Nanette is a unique model and an inspiration to many.

By Miracle Nwankwo

 

It was another Valentine day, and Sandra stood at the city mall, staring at a couple who came shopping. She wished she could be in the lady’s shoe but this will be very unlikely, and the thought left her sad, immediately.

She had met Clarke some months ago, and had thought that their relationship would have matured into romance. However, six months down the line, they had only become better friends and Clarke was yet to make any move about moving the relationship to the next level.

“I’m tired”, “I can’t wait any longer” she murmured to herself. This has been Sandra’s continuous trauma two months after she met Clarke. She wanted more and she was dying to have it.

Sandra is not the only one with such trouble; her situation is common with most ladies. Whenever they meet a nice guy whose manifesto befits their requirement (I.e. they are attracted to the person), first thing that comes to mind is romance and commitment.

Have you ever considered having a beautiful relationship with an opposite sex without expecting things to turn romantic or physical right away?

Is it compulsory to date every guy that comes your way as long as they are tall, dark, handsome, rich, or eloquent? Is dating the only way to know a guy intimately and enjoy good companionship?

The answers to these questions are up to you.

Meanwhile, there is nothing wrong with being friends for a long time without any motive of dating.

As impossible as this might sound to the hearing of some ladies, it could be the best solution or answer to all the failed relationships they have experienced in their life time.

You shouldn’t go out with any “good or great guy”, there is more to benefit from every relationship which might not be achieved when romance sets in.

Genuine Friendships helps you to make strong and wise decisions while considering taking the relationship to the next level.

Dr. Grace Cornish, a New York social psychologist, advises that romances that begin as friendships are more likely to succeed.

This could be true because after months or years of nurturing a genuine friendship you can solely take a stand on whether you wish to begin a romance relationship with such person or not without being scared about the result of your decision.

Many psychologists are of the opinion that marrying your friend or best friend is a guarantee to a lasting marriage because as friends, there is no pretense and everyone is open to each other. There is really no need to pretend to someone you are not attracted to, after all what would it cost you if your best friend finds out that you snore while sleeping.

In friendship, respect is cultivated, and both parties are kind to each other. Friends are always very keen on looking out for the best interests of their friends. Friendship-first creates space for mutual support and growth.

If these qualities are transferred into any marriage, you can trust that marriage to last for a lifetime.

You might want to ask “what if the friendship doesn’t lead to romance?”

It’s doesn’t always have to. Sad truth?

Situations where friendship-first do not lead to romance could be as a result of one person not finding the other attractive as a romantic partner but cool as a friend.  If that is the situation, there is really no need to worry because two people can be very cool as friends but may have so many troubles keeping a love affair. You should be more interested in what you stand to gain or become as a party to the relationship in terms of knowledge and growth.

You should also be interested in what you have to give or offer, remember friendship is not supposed to be a burden. It should not even amount to worries or headaches. Therefore knowing what you want and what you can handle is very vital.

In conclusion, it is always okay to be friends-first, all it takes is to be open-minded and real.

Friendship-first centers around making an impact on the lives of those amazing people we meet, with the impression of getting to know them better as we look forward to learning their stories and their preferences, while we lay aside our sexual or romantic expectations.

 

Miracle Nwankwo

You have probably experienced an emotional phase in your life that has negatively affected you and left you feeling gloomy. Instead of asking for help to cope better with your situation, you were afraid of seeking help because of what people might think or say. Health experts say the stigma of mental illness is rife and that’s the reason people tend to be in denial or don’t want to confront the emotions they might be going through. Psychiatrist, Dr Linessa Moodley, and clinical psychologist, Nompumelelo Kubheka, share expert advice that discredits the stigma and myths on mental illness.

WHAT IS MENTAL ILLNESS?

The World Health Organisation defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or illness. Mental illness and disorder can be understood as an illness that adversely affects emotions, cognition, behaviour or speech and results in deterioration in the level of functioning at work, in your personal life, family roles and responsibilities.  Dr Linessa says, “Countless people are living in stressful conditions and it comes as no surprise that mental disorders have become common. The consequences of untreated mental disorders may be severe, potentially life- threatening and adversely affect multiple domains of life.” There are multiple causes of mental illness and no one reason can be pointed out as a single cause. “Mental illness is similar as a combination of genetic predisposition (or family history), early life trauma and adversity, stressors, medical illnesses and substances, among other factors. They all influence each other and the likelihood of developing mental illness,” says Dr Linessa.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

 

  • Persistent changes to your mood

 

  • Feeling that you are not coping with your day-today activities
  • Having unusual experiences such as seeing or hearing things
  • Having trouble with your memory
  • Having thoughts of harming yourself
  • Having difficulty with substance abuse.

COMMON MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES

According to the health and medical news website WebMD, these are some of the most common mental health issues:

  • Anxiety disorders: People with anxiety disorders respond to certain objects or situations with fear and dread, as well as physical signs of anxiety or panic, such as a rapid heartbeat and sweating.
  • Mood disorders:  These disorders involve persistent feelings of sadness or periods of feeling overly happy or fluctuations from extreme happiness to extreme sadness.
  • Psychotic disorders:  These involve distorted awareness and thinking. One of the most common symptoms of psychotic disorders is hallucinations.
  • Eating disorders:  These involve extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviours involving weight and food.
  • Impulse control and addiction disorders: People with impulse control disorders are unable to resist urges or impulses to perform acts that could be harmful to themselves or others.
  • Personality disorders: People with personality disorders have extreme and inflexible personality traits that are distressing to the person and or cause problems at work, school or relationships.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): People with OCD have constant thoughts or fears that cause them to perform certain rituals or routines.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD):  PTSD is a condition that can develop following a traumatic and or terrifying event, such as sexual or physical assault or the unexpected death of a loved one.

DEALING WITH STIGMA

Stigma may be the reason you are suffering in silence when you have a mental illness. “Many people feel that seeing a psychiatrist means that something is very wrong and that a referral is an admission of severe illness. Few people see the role of psychiatrists as someone who helps ordinary people deal with extraordinary situations. This unfortunately means that many people who need psychiatric help don’t receive it and are left to struggle on their own unnecessarily,” says Dr Linessa. Nompumelelo says the lack of knowledge on mental illness derails the treatment process and leads to people suffering in silence. “There is a lot of poor judgement, insight and ignorance when it comes to mental illness, especially among black people. Some call it the white people’s illness and in black cultures, a man is expected to be strong and not show emotion. This is not right.”    Nompumelelo adds that people may be quick to blame witchcraft when someone has a mental illness. “For instance, someone who is from a rural area may be quick to use bewitchment as a point of reference when someone has a mental illness because of the general perception that exists in rural areas,” she says. “Mentally ill patients are called crazy, mad and dangerous and this doesn’t encourage them to get treated because some of them don’t want to be seen as different and abnormal.”

GETTING TREATMENT

Nompumelelo says it may be difficult for people to get treatment because mental illness is not physical like a wound.  “A wound is easily treatable as it can be seen. It can also be hard for someone who is mentally ill to seek help and explain how they feel. They might prefer medication and refuse to talk about their problems.” She adds that there are different types of mental illnesses; some are chronic while others are brief. There are also different types of mental illnesses and treatment so it is always important to consult a medical practitioner to get the correct diagnosis and treatment. Dr Linessa says, “If you are worried about someone you love or care for, start by talking to them and asking how you could be of help to them. More harm may be done by avoiding the situation than by simply talking about the symptoms. Encourage them to see a professional.”

 

Source: Health24