I feel like human rights exist in a latent form. There, but not really.

Under the UN definition, human rights are supposedly for everyone, regardless of race, religion, sex, nationality, ethnicity, etc. It claims one should have the right to life and healthcare. The right to freedom from slavery and torture, the right to work and be educated. Including one’s right to freely express themselves and share their opinion. Indeed they do sound like principles that promote equality and embrace human dignity. But on the surface though.

We are aware that many people across the globe can wake up with such privileges, whereas others do not have access to fundamental human rights. Although the ‘rights’ are outlined for us, they serve no purpose if there is no execution of these rights in many parts of the world. To be honest, most countries do not fully adhere to all human rights. Some even failed to sign the declaration like South Africa because they feared it could potentially disrupt the practices of racial segregation and discrimination at the time. The historic reign of self-serving governments, rewarding the rich while kneecapping the poor. Political repression isn’t something new and of course, governments continue to practice it. As long as corruption, dictatorship, and inaction exist -human rights will remain idealistic. A set of rights that pursue ‘aspirations’ of a better world instead of reality. They appear ambitious – a far reach for a society that thrives off inequality. The other issue is the lack of belief in these rights. Many communities would view these rights as a luxury not afforded to them. Something like the green light in the Great Gatsby – an intangible dream. What affirms one’s disbelief is the failure of the UN to accomplish its ideals. We are selling people a fantasy & many aren’t buying it. At this point, the rights are mere words – a piece of paper summarizing what one should have access to with no effective action.

Mental health has been placed on the back-burner in terms of policymaking, law, and reform. So, of course, it wasn’t defined in terms of our ‘basic’ human rights. Physical health has always received attention with regards to budgeting and medical education. Mental health has had a more difficult journey due to stigma and discrimination. For centuries it has suffered from a lack of understanding. However, the World Health Organisation recently redefined health as a ” state of complete mental, social and physical well-being, instead of the absence of disease or illness.” Slowly integrating the right to mental well-being.

Human rights violations affect one’s mental health. Being stripped of ‘basic’ human rights can take a toll on an individual. Having your freedom limited in some places is an everyday reality. Sadly it has become a norm and left many feeling that being free is a fragment of their imagination. It’s more than enough for the onset of a mental illness. With our current global stats sitting at 1 in 4 people experiencing a mental condition, the focus should promptly shift to fulfilling these rights. Providing mental health services for all and making sure it is accessible. Currently, the inequality between physical and mental health services puts many in a position where they cannot seek help because it simply isn’t available. In some countries, the only support is psychiatric institutions which have violated numerous human rights in the past. The ignorance towards the field resulted in the maltreatment of patients and exacerbated the way others viewed them. Treated as outcasts, prisoners of their minds and the system. Patients were disrespected and offered zero dignity. They were denied privacy and became bystanders in consultations regarding their treatment options. Patients were managed like criminals excluded from any decision-making. Typically one would be briefed on all options before they choose. But most were deemed ‘incompetent of making decisions for themselves.’ A place that had the power to offer security, stability, and help became patients’ worst nightmare. Our response to illness of the mind was captivity, forced sterilizations, and abuse.
Outdated practices that neglect holistic community-based support. Torture and victimization of patients have left a dark stain on how we view mental health and treat it. Before we consider solutions, we must understand the rights each individual possesses. Patients must be offered liberty and autonomy with their treatment options, they have the right to refuse and should not be labeled incompetent for doing so. The idea should always be to help and assist the patient, therefore practicing any seclusion or alienation is counterproductive. This creates further anxiety, stress, and fear in the patient. They have rights and should not be penalized because one cannot visibly see their illness.

The priority now should be catering to the whole population by developing cost-effective alternatives. Poverty is linked to mental health. The trauma and economic strain can be taxing on one’s well-being. People are caught in a cycle of living with mental conditions because they cannot afford it. When you need to put food on the table, overpriced healthcare isn’t even a thought. We must serve the needs of the less fortunate – they should not feel like their mental health is unattainable, among other human rights. Mental health must not become another elusive human right. It needs to be built into policy and reform followed by action. To acquire ‘belief’ in the system and move away from stigma – the words must have meaning in the form of hands-on progress. People must visibly see the changes instead of longing for a false promise. Which, yes, is how most politicians get by. But yet years later we find ourselves in a position where we understand our problems but refuse to solve them.



I want to start by leaning into the joy and embracing the strength women possess before we unpack the second pandemic that is taking place. I am fortunate to know and love a wide range of phenomenal women. Women who inspire me daily. Women who motivate me to take up space and use my voice at every table. I am constantly in awe of their ability to navigate several crucial roles in society seamlessly. They have proven their adaptability through the ages and continue to illuminate us all with their light.

I am blessed and honoured to have grown up around remarkable women. I have watched my gran & mum hustle and switch gears with ease to be everything I need in any given situation. I saw them be brave even in times when it was hard to be. I have witnessed their hard- work and reaped the benefits of their struggle. I observed them in the heat of the moment become problem solvers, quick thinkers with solutions. I’ve received their unfiltered advice and guidance even when I didn’t want to. I have leaned on both their shoulders and given them an earful. Still, they listened. I have experienced their natural-born nurture in full force, too many times to mention. I have seen them play the role of fathers with such security that I never felt the gap.

They, like many women, play a central role in society which has provided stability and progress. Women have proven themselves in all parts of society and afforded us a voice that we would have never had.
Women everywhere have fought a long fight that gifted us with the ultimate opportunity. The chance to freely participate as active members of society. History details the obstacles of gender inequality and years of oppression that women endured. They fought for their seat at the table and decided to make the change. A change that in addition to taking care of themselves through the fight for basic human rights, they never dropped the ball on their families. They consistently took care of their homes while fighting to be heard. A true testament to their inner strength, tremendous resilience, and selfless nature.

With the crucial contribution, women continue to make, you would think they would be valued and appreciated, yet they are met with violence- at the hands of men. I’m gonna have to throw some shade on men, but it’s all factual. If you’re offended, then you’re probably part of the problem too.
Men have silenced women for years with violence. A patriarchal world that holds them on a pedestal despite their injustice and deems women as second-class citizens.
Yes, we live in a male dominate society where men are offered respect and considered ‘strong.’ But true strength exists in the battered and bruised women who volunteer themselves in the protection of their children. Real strength- lies in the women who place a meal in front of their abuser each night, plotting their next move. Or the pure strength it takes for a woman to refuse to taint the image of their child’s father (the abuser).
The force you use on a female is a sign of weakness if anything.

Women have been victims of violence for as long as our species has existed. Beaten into submission. Men have built their manhood around being the provider and dominant decision-maker of their household. Most, contributing in a financial sense. When you think about how a woman participates in a household, the idea of them being inferior even in a traditional nature is absurd.
Violence against women is a hidden crisis that has no limits geographically and culturally. Across the globe, women still grapple with inequality. Socially excuses have been made for men while women are seen as feeble. Let’s allow that to sink in. So a man taking advantage of a woman has been translated in society as a ‘woman being weak.’ Automatically the narrative is switched to – what did she do to provoke him?
With a world stat of 1 in 3 women experiencing violence sexually or physically by an intimate partner – we still out here trying to flip the script. No wonder why fewer than 40% of women subjected to violence seek help. Who wants help from a society that blames you. Women paralyzed by fear of opening up and seeking help are shut down and persecuted. It’s a vicious cycle that is an everyday battle for women worldwide.

Men’s manhood has been reshaped with the participation of women in society. You can imagine that doesn’t sit well with many of their egos. So they continue to assert their dominance by using force on women with a false idea that they own them. Anyone who knows me personally knows I reject traditional roles of women and men. It is in these twisted beliefs (gendered roles) that have further intensified the issue of violence against women. Allowing society to determine our worth and place in this world.

I’ve witnessed this in my community, where rigid gender roles set the expectation that women must be submissive to men. They must obey their husbands and not go against their decision-making. If you dare to, violence is exercised as a means of control and punishment. It makes me think of that line in the Great Gatsby, “And I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” An important line in the book which illustrates the value men place on women in a narrow appearance-based view. All they could offer is beauty to barter a mate.

In many countries, women must become mothers and bear children. They are never to deny their husbands sex. A falsehood that a man can determine how and when you use your body. You see it creep up in your upbringing. Growing up, my family rarely approved of me wearing my hair down and dressing in skirts or shorts. A fear they had of the predators it may attract. Even with the freedom women now have, many still wrestle with the simple act of choosing what to wear. Our voices, silenced by the confinements of how we should appear in society. The provocative dressing of a woman is used as an excuse and means to justify male sexual entitlement. As if our safety is dependent on a button-up knitted sweater. Every day you hear of men forcing their way with women. Such a heinous act is reduced to the clothes she is wearing.

Something that exacerbates the issue of violence is the presence of poverty. Women are often dependent on their abusers financially. They endure the violence for the sake of their kid’s survival. It sets up a crippling cycle. Leave the abuse but risk being homeless. Or have a roof over your head but endure violence that affects both you and your children. This type of trauma can affect one’s ability to relate to others and their view of themselves. It can alter one’s view of men (male or female) permanently. A lot of women grow up with versions of the same man. Women’s first experience with violence or neglect may be with their father or other male family members. They may mature to find similar partners, behavior they are accustomed to that feels like home.
From a male perspective, they may be more inclined to engage in abusive behavior because of a history of exposure to child maltreatment. Many witness family violence that becomes a norm and is eventually transferred into their homes. “Hurt people hurt people.”

The unseen damages of violence penetrate deeper than the physical injuries sustained for both women and children. The psychological and emotional impacts women suffer from can have long-term mental health effects. The abuse – whether physical, sexual, or verbal may increase one’s risk of developing a mental health condition. Some of which include depression, post-traumatic stress, anxiety & borderline personality disorders. In severe cases that go unchecked, this can lead to self-injury and suicide attempts. Many women engage in substance abuse by misusing alcohol and drugs to escape the thoughts and feelings that haunt them. Abused women may want to fill the void by chasing highs to avoid memories that could cause them to relive traumatic moments. Survivors of abuse experience sleeping difficulties, severe fear, and stress. Some struggle with eating disorders as they wrestle with finding a sense of control. Eating for many is ‘something they can control’ either in a restrictive eating manner or through overeating as a coping mechanism. Many find comfort in food and feel like this can bring them joy in times of anxiety, stress, and fear. Temporary pleasures to mask pain and trauma can lead to habits that become difficult to break. However, often this feels like the only option.
Women turn to short fixes, especially in my community, due to the lack of access to facilities and programs that assist victims of abuse.

In my country, where this type of violence is rife – we are not equipped with the necessary amenities that provide a hands-on approach for women. Many come from disadvantaged and undeveloped communities, where paying for professional help is not an option. When putting food on the table is a struggle. We need a combination of prevention, response approaches as well as policy development to tackle this issue. In a weak economic climate and a tight job market, most women need financial security to relieve themselves from their current situations. The government has a lot of ground to cover. Government has to prioritize funding shelters, existing non-profit organizations, and professional mental health services for women. Aid programs that are currently available for women and give women more options. The same energy we put into vaccination programs for Covid 19 is what we need for gender-based violence. Communities have to rally together with both men and women- silent men are part of the problem. If all men don’t wish to be painted with the same brush, then they must show in their actions that they are different. They must show their support for women and call out the acts of other men. This growing issue must be a matter of urgency for individuals, families, communities, and the government. We must work in unison to protect our women and children.



When we speak of causes of mental illnesses, we often find there is no single cause but rather a combination. We tend to categorize these causes into three main groups biological, psychological, and environmental. Under each group lies possible risk factors that can contribute to the onset of mental illness. The more risk factors you encounter, the more likely your chances of enduring a mental illness may be. Matters of the brain are complicated, as causes depend on the individual and the type of disorder. Mental illness could remain dormant or ‘activate’ depending on one’s unique experience with exposed risk factors. The move from ‘dormant’ to ‘active’ is the direct consequence of what we call triggers. Triggers are different for each person. What may set off one might not spark the other.

Biological causes:
So we often hear people debate whether “it’s a chemical imbalance.” To give this phrase meaning, we refer to the increase or reduced number of neurotransmitters that affect the overall functioning of the neural network.
Neurotransmitters are responsible for communicating signals between nerve cells. The abnormal functioning of these nerve pathways, which connect to distinct parts of the brain, may result in mental disorders.

Speaking of functionality and brain regions, the occurrence of a brain injury may bring about mental disorders. As we know, our brains are central to the functioning of our bodies. When a part of it takes a hit, it could alter our moods, the way we think and act.
The type of disorder is dependent on the impact, the region affected, and the severity of the injury.

Then comes genetics. Similarly, you may get your green eyes from Mom and your freckles from Dad in the form of genes. There is reason to believe that susceptibility to mental illness is no different. The gist of genetics and mental illness is that some disorders may run in families. A hypothesis that suggests if a direct family member has a mental illness, one may be more likely to develop it themselves. It is the susceptibility that passes down in families. The abnormalities in a family member’s gene pool do not warrant an onset of a mental illness but present a risk factor. There are variables to consider, like your environment and how you choose to respond to it. Exposure to abuse/ traumatic events could activate a mental illness that is underlying due to genes.
The phenomenon of triggers.

Infections and diseases play a role in contributing to the evolution of a mental illness. In a comparable way that disease/ infection causes your physical health to decline, your mental health suffers too. Generally, the assumption is that one who is experiencing a disease/ infection has poor health overall. Following, the belief that their habits are unhealthy; poor diet, substance use, and exercise levels. The added impact of medications and poor lifestyle choices due to disease/infection can contribute to the progression of a mental illness.

While focusing on the biological causes in one’s postnatal lifespan, we must consider the conditions of an individual’s prenatal experience. The fetus’s exposure and the environment before birth coincide with its growth. Any disruption or impairment that affects the unborn child’s brain development is known as prenatal damage. Sadly, this damage can cause adverse effects on one’s mental health before their life outside of the womb begins.
Determinants of a mental illness include a mother using drugs or alcohol during her pregnancy and her exposure to infections/illness. Mother’s in traumatic environments; exposed to violence, abuse, and high levels of stress increase the likelihood of negatively affecting the neurodevelopment of their fetus. In addition, the probability of their child acquiring a mental illness

Our environments indeed shape us.
Psychological and environmental factors intertwine, both supporting the premise that the trigger of emotional stress may stimulate a mental illness. It is no secret that severe psychological trauma may lead to mental illness. One’s suffering in the form of emotional, sexual, or physical abuse increases the risk, though it is also dependent on the individual’s reaction to those stressors. Childhood neglect or an early loss of a parent all provide psychological risk factors for mental illness.

Environmental factors include the challenges we face in our lifespan. Deeply rooted in the psychological effect these changes have, each stressor can be a potential risk factor. Triggers such as the illness of a relative, divorce, change in jobs, or schools all present the possibility of mental disorders.
Living in poverty or dysfunctional family life can cause one to experience an episode of mental illness. Political unrest, socio-cultural expectations, discrimination, and social disadvantage are catalysts that can cause long-lasting consequences to one’s mental well-being. Each stressor has the power to drive one into a mood or anxiety-related disorder. A common mental health condition is post-traumatic stress disorder triggered by distressing events that one witnesses or experiences.

The length of the exposure, the severity, one’s age, and prior stresses are all conditions that determine the way one is affected. With the notion that we are all unique individuals, we must acknowledge that one may be more resilient to certain traumatic stressors than others. Our resilience varies due to our characteristics, personality types, coping mechanisms, and previous trauma.

There is beauty in the idea that none of us walk the same paths. Our journey and response to our environment uniquely define each of us. While providing us with an empathetic lens to which we should view others and mental health.
The only path you know is yours, so before making a quick judgment on one’s mental illness, understand the variation and cumulative causes that may have got them there.



“How did I miss it?” We often blame ourselves for failing to observe mental illness in those around us. Our minds run in circles wondering, how was I blind to it all. ” I didn’t see it coming.” We harbor feelings of guilt, contemplating whether we were too consumed in our own worlds to notice the changes in others. We begin to feel ashamed as we realize our neglect for those living under the same roof. Or maybe it was the colleague we spoke to every day or the close friend we didn’t think to check on.

Whoever it may be, this usually occurs for one of three reasons.

1- Denial.
2- Lack of knowledge regarding mental illness and the ability to notice early warning signs.
3- Unable to devote time to others as you navigate your mental health struggles.

Regardless of the reason, it’s not your fault. Wait. Unless you knew and refused to help, then damn that’s on you. No need to feel attacked, I’ma explain. If you’re aware that a family member or friend may struggle with a mental illness and do nothing, this may worsen their disorder. As the illness persist’s it may become more challenging to treat and overcome. Hence the importance of early intervention that proves to reduce the severity of a mental illness. Not only are you failing to help, but you’re prolonging a disorder and hindering treatment. Would your approach be the same with a physically visible wound? I wonder.

Now back to those initial reasons. Denial is a common feeling amongst family and friends who experience a loved one with a mental illness. Most refuse to accept ‘mental illness’ due to the stigma attached. It is more comforting to believe it is a phase, a temporary setback. The idea of not confronting it provides a safety net of it not being a reality. Denial is a defense mechanism to protect the unknown. Then comes comparisons.
“Mona from down the street is much worse, she hasn’t gone for treatment, so you don’t need to, you’re fine.”
Clinging on to dismissal. Family and friends compare mental health with one another to satisfy their belief that their beloved isn’t as bad. A big no-no. Everybody’s mental health journey is unique and cannot be reduced to what Mona down the street is going through. No two paths will be the same. You are rejecting their mental illness in the hope of preserving your peace of mind.

I am a firm believer in the words of Sir Francis Bacon, “Knowledge is Power.” So when it comes to lacking knowledge on mental illness, I believe there is an easy fix. Too many have succumbed to the notion, “Ignorance is bliss” denying themselves the best tool of understanding. Many miss early signs of mental illness ~ quite simply because they don’t know them. Equipping yourself with information puts you in a position of power where you chip away at the ‘control.’ The control of the mental illness on your loved one and your family/friend dynamics. Once you break the barrier of stigma, knowledge will welcome you with open hands. The choice is yours.

Finally, in some cases, family and friends could be experiencing mental health difficulties that prevent them from devoting their attention to others. They may be going through a period of poor mental health due to living with a mentally ill individual. Before diagnosis, there is a ripple effect within households. Tensions arise as family and friends become depressed and deeply anxious about their loved ones. Consumed with stress, many feel helpless. However, hope is not lost.

Lighten the load, take the time to get advice, and reach out. Begin with educating yourself on ways to show support while figuring out your boundaries. We all have limits on what we can give. There are many ways to take care of yourself and support your loved one. You can start by researching education centers/courses that cater to your needs and theirs. You can learn about different mental illnesses and symptoms. You can find support groups for them and yourself.

Early warning signs are vital before you approach the initial conversation with your loved one. Make sure you’re well-versed on potential signs of them having a mental illness. Note you are exercising a role of support; by no means are you fixing. Have an open, honest conversation based on research and what you have observed paired with how they feel.

Just like road signs that provide direction, this will too.
Early warning signs of mental illness:

~ Appetite: Dramatic changes in eating habits, loss of appetite, or increased hunger

~ Sleep: Changes in sleeping patterns, excessive sleeping, constant fatigue, or inability to sleep (insomnia)

~ Mood: Dramatic shifts/ extreme moods, the constant fluctuation of highs and lows, rapid changes in emotions

~ Isolation/ Withdrawal: Social withdrawal, avoiding family and friends, withdrawal from hobbies and interests

~ Daily functioning: Inability to carry out prior routine, daily activities like work/study or everyday problems

~ Substance Abuse: Excessive use of alcohol and drugs

~ Anxiety: Increased fear and excessive nervousness, worrying and paranoia

~ Detachment from reality: Hallucinations, delusions of things that do not exist outside their mind

~ Relating: Unable to relate to people and situations, inability to maintain relationships

~ Sex drive: Extreme changes in sexual activity

~ Illogical speech/ thinking: Disorganized speech with no meaning, thinking becomes irrational an influx of magical/fantasy thought patterns, belief in powers

~Disorganized behaviour: Behaving in an odd, unusual way, acts in an uncharacteristic manner

~ Suicidal thinking: Wanting to hurt themselves, inflict pain and thoughts of taking their own life. (Urgent Help is needed)

If a combination of signs occurs without a recent linked event or trauma, it may be time to have that conversation. Support your loved ones by offering them the necessary information and steps. It takes a community. Allow yourself to experience the chain of emotions while being proactive in your ability to help.

Mind Over Matter.



Who would have thought we’d be facing new realities, forcing us to close the door to normalcy in the form of a global pandemic. Okay, maybe Bill Gates, but for the average Joe or plain Jane, COVID-19 caught us unawares. It continues to sweep across the globe sending nations into a state of panic and fear. As the two-year mark approaches since our battle began, we are still faced with uncertainty as the world starts to rebuild what has been broken and lost.

Undoubtedly the death of humans worldwide at the hands of the pandemic is our most tragic loss as we continue to see loved ones fighting for their lives.

The world came to a standstill as the list of losses painfully added up.

Each country had its response to mitigate the spread of the virus by imposing lockdowns and restrictive policies.
Countries far and wide have been grappling with the socio-economic impact of this health crisis. For months communities lived from hand to mouth as various sectors faced shutdowns and closed signs became more permanent. The streets were silent as chaos struck. It straight up felt like a movie minus the climactic scene where the hero/heroine saves the day.

Society felt the impact as unemployment rates were on the rise and food insecurity worsen. Like most disasters, low-income groups always get the short end of the stick.
The pandemic has exacerbated the gap between rich and poor due to the lack of resources and financial strain. People’s livelihoods are at risk as many live in extreme poverty with no access to health care services.

It is fair to say that COVID has stripped away most parts of society that we as humans are dependent on and naive to think it hasn’t affected our minds.

From the minute we heard about the threat it posed, humans experienced a combination of fear, stress, and worry. The uncertainty of the unknown virus granted a natural response of concern and disbelief. Rightfully so, people were anxious about their health and the potential risk of putting their families’ well-being in danger. Most are navigating through losing loved ones, income, experiences, and time.

With the primary stress being the physical threat of contracting the virus, many have overlooked the mental strain.
The majority were and are struggling with their mental health. Whether it be overworked medical professionals who are at a heightened risk of exposure feeling overwhelmed with anxiety or the retrenched single mother figuring out her next move, COVID has taken a toll on our mental state.

In households, built-up tensions and frustrations have intensified abuse as bottled-up emotions come to light as acts of explosive rage. Abused victims experience an increase in social isolation with restricted movement and reduced contact with others. Some have started or returned to seeking comfort in substance abuse habits as a means of coping and escaping the increased stress.

With limited social interactions and support, many are feeling alone without the connection of others. The weight of this pandemic starts to feel heavier when the load is not shared. We rely on each other. With support restricted in a physical sense, people can feel cut off from the outside world and retreat to a bubble where that confinement can be lonely. Spending days on end indoors may lead to cabin fever, where one suffers from feeling trapped and enters a state of extreme restlessness/boredom. We should not turn a blind eye to this as it can entice feelings of self-harm and onset depression. People predisposed to mental illness and current mental disorder patients may have had limited access to services, hindering their progress. Our children cant make sense of it all while their worlds turn upside down. Our elderly are facing yet another tragedy as they come to terms with being a high-risk group. Many who tested positive and recovered were stigmatized.
All in all, there isn’t an individual that hasn’t been affected.

Media and social media has served us in both a negative and positive aspect.

On the one hand, it has kept us all connected virtually. On the other hand, it has created a frenzy with the constant update of statistics that remind us daily of the threat we face while perpetuating falsehoods that have downplayed the reality of the virus. Conspiracy theories flooded social media platforms, misinformation that is responsible for creating setbacks. I’m always down for welcoming justified perspectives but people seemed to be wilding out. Yes, by nature we understand most things as cause and effect. Humans need to reason and rationalize matters, especially of this magnitude. However, theories were creating anxiety the more you scrolled, rather than equipping one with educated thought-provoking explanations.

Our ‘hero’ disguised as the inception of the vaccine created a calming force amongst some and increased anxiety with others. Once again, false news surfaced and drove many to believe there was more to being vaccinated against COVID. People who never had this internal conflict before stood in line with an influx of thoughts and suspicions. Once vaccinated, many feared for the after-effects and the opinions of others.

Dealing with a disaster that has heightened anxiety, we do a great job at creating more. Let’s refrain from lighting matches on a fire that’s been burning. Instead, we need to rally together in support of one another. Before we can achieve this, we need to start with ourselves. First, let’s establish that it’s okay to have good and bad days, no one expects you to be positive Polly 24/7. Forced optimism to suppress your human experience will only get you so far – welcome the yin and the yang.

Self-care during this time should be one’s utmost priority.

We can focus on building inner peace by getting out into nature, breathing fresh air again, and being thankful for the small blessings. Exercising and working on your physical health can often build your mind from the outside. Activities like yoga and relaxation techniques can help one feel calm and centered. It’s astounding what breathwork can do, bringing a deep sense of tranquility and reminding us that we should be grateful to be breathing. One of the things that personally helped me is finding a routine during stricter lockdown levels. Following a schedule allows you to balance yourself in an era where you cannot control the external chaos but you can control what you choose to do.

Many have suffered from irregular sleeping patterns and overall feelings of agitation. We see it every day, the Karens at the grocery store, vent-up drivers on the road, or the neighbour that no longer greets. Our communities are frustrated, the mask doesn’t do a good job of covering that up. If there was a time to show compassion and remind each other what it is to be human it’s now. To help us slowly work our way back, we can prioritize healthy habits. Healthy eating is essential to ensure we are feeding our brains with nourishing foods and maximizing our energy levels. Speaking of what we take in, limiting time on social media or detoxing can serve us well. The world is constantly going through tragedy and internalizing it can be detrimental to our peace of mind.

Taking note of our screen time can help us steer clear of receiving negative news constantly and feeling burdened with the world’s issues. This goes for opinions and gossip too, decipher what kind of conversations you choose to engage in. Don’t let the noise in. Substitute your phone time with satisfying productive hobbies like gardening, DIY, or arts and crafts. Invest in mindfulness meditation which can help you block out distractions and become self-aware.

Call, check-in with family and friends, a message can go a long way too. Make yourself available once you’re in a good shape to do so.
Embrace those who may find it hard to adjust back into social settings and have social anxiety. Slowly suggest one on one coffee dates or hikes, even a late-night cruise with good music may be all a person needs. Emphasis on the ‘good music’.

Now I wonder when we’ll receive emails without the common intro “during these unprecedented times” but for now things are looking up. Let’s focus on what we can do for ourselves and for others. Peace over everything.

Mind over matter.



It’s only fitting that individuals born between 1925 to 1945 are known as the ‘Silent Generation”, notorious for soldiering on and navigating through adversity without much complaint. From the Great Depression, WWII, and an Apartheid regime, to name a few, this generation has endured hardships in all forms, recently the addition of the global pandemic. As an age group facing the most risk during this health crisis, they continue to practice silent resilience.

In no way does their silence serve as an indication of their ability to cope but rather attests to an ingrained resistance to seeking mental support. Reared on the belief that being strong and showing emotional restraint was a means of survival, anything less, was a sign of weakness. This indoctrinated perception is a direct consequence of a society that marginalized and discriminated against mental illness.

Lunatic. Mad. Crazy.

Popular labels used to carelessly describe patients who experienced mental illness and poor mental health. Loosely used terms that hold power to perpetuate stigma and socially isolate. Society defined mentally ill patients as outsiders and rejected them from their narrow-minded idea of what they considered normal. With the same energy used to make quick judgments, ignorant solutions formed. “Get over it.” “Snap out of it.” Simple right?
The ripple effects made patients either less inclined to explore treatment options or prolonged treatment due to self-doubt.
This stigma dispersed through all levels. Institutional, social, and consequently a self-stigma deeply rooted in internalized shame.

The generation of silent sufferers have contributed to a vicious cycle that produced a history of rising stigma, which meant mental health was never a topic of discussion. Mental health back then was approached with a ‘brush it under the carpet’ notion as knowledge and understanding of mental illness was limited.


In the environment I grew up in, psychological health was a hushed subject. Emotions that were considered ‘negative, or ‘weak’ were soon suppressed and swiftly dismissed. My community shared the consensus that in the face of adversity you should thug it out. The common expectation was that if you fall, you dust it off and keep going. This belief was a blanket solution for every situation, be it trivial or significant. From a young age, I had an urge to understand my home dynamics and this shielded generational approach, which posed a never-ending question that clung to my childhood. Why? These three letters piqued my interest and had me fall in love.

My childhood proved to be a bittersweet experience as it sparked a curiosity in me that opened the door to psychology. It was love at first sight.

I embarked on a journey filled with deep admiration and respect for the human science that studies the mind and behaviour. I immersed myself in a field that has since become a life compass. Psychology represents and defines a central part of who I am today. But like most first loves the euphoria became clouded by reality.

As you may know, to become a practicing professional, you need your master’s degree paired with a full-year internship before registering for the HPCSA. As a young graduate in 2017 who still intends on achieving the above milestones, the inherent stubborn and impatient nature of a Taurus prompted my desire to do it all now. With my undergraduate degree at 20, there was a sense of naivety brewing behind my dream of being fully qualified at 24, something I needed to rethink.

How could a 24-year-old counsel a 45-year-old patient?

A question posed to me as I keenly spoke to my professor about my intentions. He advised me that I needed life experience that would afford me a deeper understanding of people. A combination of maturity and worldliness. Being goal-orientated, an individual driven by their avid need to journal each plan it was to my surprise that this advice caused some items on my list to enter a state of pending. I evaluated this change of course and decided that I would venture out and open myself to new experiences outside the walls that brought me both knowledge and comfort.

Switch up the narrative.

On my journey of self-discovery, I began brainstorming ways to align my passion with action to create more awareness and reach a community that could equally educate and introduce me to several opposing perspectives. Hence the birth of my blog Mind Over Matter: Psych Talks.

With a technology-driven world and society consumed by outside appearances and material gain, there still seems to be neglect for mental health amongst Gen Z and Millenials. Gen Z is currently the most depressed generation riddled with anxiety and stress. Unfortunately, we live in a world where ‘internal wounds of the mind’ are ignored, yet visible exterior wounds are offered sympathy and support.
It’s about time we break the cycle.

It dawned on me amid Covid-19 that I wanted to curate an online platform that aids in reshaping the mold by sharing knowledge through open, honest discourse. A safe space that welcomes diversity and does not shy away from controversial topics and uncomfortable conversations like the generations before us.

Timing is everything. I am eternally grateful to be a product of the generational mindset towards mental health that led me to find my vocation at a young age and catapulted me into finding my voice today.

Welcome to my blog. Thank you.