The Importance of Reaching Out

By: Theresa Groenewaldt (Student Intern Clinical Psychologist)

Not everything that weighs you down is yours to carry alone.

Common thoughts:

“I don’t think my problems are important or big enough to talk to anyone about…”

“I’m worried I might be labelled or that people might judge me…”

We all go through mental health challenges and the best way to deal with it is to reach out to someone and talk about it. Although it can be awkward to reach out to someone at first, once it is done we will find that it was the best decision and most likely to feel relieved once it is done.

How to reach out:

To start a conversation can be difficult at times especially when we reach out for help; here are a few ice breakers for starting a conversation and reaching out:

“I don’t know if you can help me, but I’m hoping you can help me to find someone who can.”

“I have a tough situation; it’s really bugging me… Can I talk to you about it?”

“I can’t seem to get past the feelings I’m having. I wanted to reach out before things got worse.”

Sometimes reaching out to someone in person can be anxious and overwhelming. However, there is always an option for reaching out to someone telephonically first, which will also aid in helping you take the first step to reaching out.

What will happen after reaching out?

After sharing with an entrusted person with what you are going through:

It may take time to feel better afterwards. Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better, but it’s important to work through to past pain to be able to move forward on your journey of healing (this time without the past baggage coming with you). It is important to remember that it is a process and healing takes time.

The person you reach out to may not be able to “fix” the problem, but they may be able to connect you with someone who can support you better.

They may need to set up an appointment for you to see someone else that can help you.

If you find that your problems seem to be unresolved after seeking help, don’t give up. Keep trying. You’ll find someone who can support you and let you know that you are not alone.

Importance of Time Management

By: Malan Chatevuka (Occupational Therapist)

What is time management?

There always seems to be so much to fit in one day, and never enough hours in the day. How do some people seem to have it “all together” while some of us just don’t get past half of our to-do list?! We all have the same 24 hours right?

The answer to that may lie in good time management.

Time management refers to the way that one organizes and plans how long you have to spend on specific activities. The aim is to get more done in less time, even when demands are high and time is limited; to work SMARTER, rather than HARDER. Remember, being busy does not necessarily mean effective.
Failing to manage time or poor time management skills can result in:

  • Missed deadlines and appointments
  • Procrastination and lack of focus
  • Lack of professionalism
  • High stress levels
  • Strained workplace relationships
  • Work and life imbalance

Benefits of time management
In one’s life, time management can benefit you in the following ways:

  • Greater productivity and efficiency
  • A better professional reputation
  • Less stress
  • Greater opportunities to achieve important life and career goals

Steps for better time management at work

Below describe four ways that you can practice time management in an effective manner; namely using the 4 D’s

The 4 D’s of time management

  1. Delete it

Check whether the task requires your attention and is worth your time. If it does not, then simply delete it. An example is deleting spam emails on it.

  • Delegate it

Is it necessary that YOU do the task? Is it your responsibility to do? If the answer is no, then delegate it. Just make sure you delegate it to someone that can do the task right!

  • Do it

If a task can be done in a few minutes, just do it- provided it’s not a task that needs to be deleted, delegated or deferred.

  • Defer it

There may be some tasks that come across your desk that you may not be able to deal with straight away. Examples might include an email relating to a family holiday- it is not part of your work day, but needs a reply.

A great way to implement is to look at your to do list and lacing each tasks according to one of the D’s. Then also do that with each task that you come across your desk during the day.

You might find that some tasks keeps being moved to the next day- ask yourself if that task is really important for you to do. Chances are it may not be. Thus again by deleting or delegating, you can free yourself from the task that might just be sucking up your time. Similarly it may be a task that you are procrastinating on- try to get to the root of what is keeping you from doing it.

By practicing good time management skills, it should allow you to strike a balance between the three aspects of life namely work, leisure and self-care.

Bipolar Mood Disorder

By: Markus Kalipa (Nursing Manager)

What is bipolar?

Is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).

“when I was high, I was high as the sky, but when I was low, I was as low as a snake’s belly.”

This quote was taken from a patient diagnosed and treated for Bipolar Mood Disorder in her 80’s. it illustrates the oscillation of mood between mania and depression that can all encompassing and disruptive of normal daily activities for the affected individual with bipolar.

How do I know I have bipolar mood disorder?

Knowing whether you have bipolar mood disorder or not, is not as easy as knowing that you have a high blood pressure or any other medical condition. Therefore, you need to see a qualified psychiatrist, psychologist or any health personnel with sufficient knowledge in mental health field to make a proper diagnosis. At Bel Esprit Mental Hospital, we can help you know whether you are suffering from bipolar or not.

What causes bipolar

The exact causes of bipolar disorder has yet to be determined. Scientific evidence supports a chemical imbalance in the brain, although the cause of the imbalance remains unclear. These are few causes

  • hereditary factors (research shows that this disorder runs in family already known with bipolar)
  • environmental triggers (stressful life events) are influential (Soreff & McInnes, 2008).
  • Biochemical (Early studies have associated symptoms of depression with a functional deficiency of norepinephrine and dopamine, and mania with a functional excess of these amines).

Signs and symptoms suggesting that you have bipolar disorder

Common signs and symptoms of mania include:

  • Feeling unusually “high” and optimistic OR extremely irritable
  • Unrealistic, grandiose beliefs about one’s abilities or powers
  • Sleeping very little, but feeling extremely energetic
  • Talking so rapidly that others can’t keep up
  • Racing thoughts; jumping quickly from one idea to the next
  • Highly distractible, unable to concentrate
  • Impaired judgment and impulsiveness
  • Acting recklessly without thinking about the consequences
  • Delusions and hallucinations (in severe cases)

Hypomania symptoms

Hypomania is a less severe form of mania. In a hypomanic state, you’ll likely feel euphoric, energetic, and productive, but will still be able to carry on with your day-to-day life without losing touch with reality. To others, it may seem as if you’re merely in an unusually good mood. However, hypomania can result in bad decisions that harm your relationships, career, and reputation. In addition, hypomania often escalates to full-blown mania or is followed by a major depressive episode.

Symptoms of bipolar depression


  • Feeling hopeless, sad, or empty
  • Irritability
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Physical and mental sluggishness
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Sleep problems
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms of a mixed episode

A mixed episode of bipolar disorder features symptoms of both mania or hypomania and depression. Common signs of a mixed episode include depression combined with agitation, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, distractibility, and racing thoughts. This combination of high energy and low mood makes for a particularly high risk of suicide.

What is rapid cycling?

Some people with bipolar disorder develops “rapid cycling” where they experience four or more episodes of mania or depression within a 12-month period. Mood swings can occur very quickly, like a rollercoaster randomly moving from high to low and back again over a period of days or even hours. Rapid cycling can leave you feeling dangerously out of control and most commonly occurs if your bipolar disorder symptoms are not being adequately treated.

The different faces of bipolar disorder

Bipolar I Disorder (mania or a mixed episode) – This is the classic manic-depressive form of the illness, characterized by at least one manic episode or mixed episode. Usually—but not always—Bipolar I Disorder also involves at least one episode of depression.

Bipolar II Disorder (hypomania and depression) – In Bipolar II disorder, you don’t experience full-blown manic episodes. Instead, the illness involves episodes of hypomania and severe depression.

Cyclothymia (hypomania and mild depression) – Cyclothymia is a milder form of bipolar disorder that consists of cyclical mood swings. However, the symptoms are less severe than full-blown mania or depression.

Treatment for bipolar disorder

If you spot the symptoms of bipolar disorder in yourself or someone else, don’t wait to get help. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away; in fact, it will almost certainly get worse. Living with untreated bipolar disorder can lead to problems in everything from your career to your relationships to your health. But bipolar disorder is highly treatable, so diagnosing the problem and starting treatment as early as possible can help prevent these complications.

If you’re reluctant to seek treatment because you like the way you feel when you’re manic, remember that the energy and euphoria come with a price. Mania and hypomania often turn destructive, hurting you and the people around you.

Treatment basics

At Bel Esprit we follow “A Biopsychosocial Model type of therapy”

This is model involves the combination of both;

  • Medication
  • Psychotherapy
  • Life style changes
  • Social support

Pet-Assisted Therapy in Mental Health

By: Rita Brisley (Matron)

“Pako” – Bel Esprit Alternative Therapist

Pet-Assisted Therapy-how animals help patients combat mental illness. Patients are benefitting from the company of a therapy dog to help with their treatment for stress, anxiety and depression.

Where appropriate and where patients are keen, they can interact with a dog, and some choose to pat and stroke, or groom and hug, as they participate in therapy. This helps provide comfort in moments of distress and helps to rebuild self-esteem.

Animals works as a great ice breaker in one-to-one and group therapy sessions. They lift the spirits of patients on ward visits. Petting or stroking a dog does wonders for your blood pressure and stress levels.

Animal therapy are a big success because patients don’t feel judged by a dog, who is able to display unconditional acceptance, and they feel more confident to confront their issues.

How can pet-assisted therapy help patients?

Pet-assisted activities encourage patients to have conversations with their therapist, as well as with their fellow patients. This can be helpful in promoting social interaction and breaking down barriers, emotionally and in social context.

Animals can trigger the release of endorphins, a feel-good neurotransmitter which gives a calming effect and boosts the level of serotonin, a chemical linked with happiness and wellbeing.

By directing one’s attention towards another living thing, a patient’s focus is drawn away from his or her own difficulties and, for a while, they can distance themselves from their distress and then begin talking about their own issues and consider ways forward.

In this way, pet-assisted therapy enables a patient to work with a professional towards attaining clinical goals.

Universities worldwide are turning to therapy dogs to relieve their student’s pre-exam nerves and first-term homesickness.

Studies have found that just the presence of a dog can help lower levels of stress and anxiety and help patients feel more at home.

How do therapy dogs differ from assistance dogs?

A therapy dog is different from an assistance dog, which will have special training to provide support for someone with a disability, or for someone living with conditions such as epilepsy.

A therapy dog needs to be calm and react well to other people’s tears, sudden noises and movements, provides comfort to patients in moments of distress.

Therapy dogs helps build trust between the patient and therapist, helps reduce stress, boost self-esteem and generally improve mood. Bull Terriers are effective as therapy dogs because, despite their fearsome reputation and the bad press they sometimes receive, are very loving and very people orientated.

Does Animal-Assisted Therapy Really Work?

Therapy animals assist therapists in helping clients with a multitude of goals such as improving self-steam and developing social skills, as well as providing help for anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They also work in a wide variety of clinical settings from psychiatric hospitals to nursing homes.

Benefits of Animal-Assisted Therapy:

Animals have a positive impact on lives. Animals promote an increase in patient participation in group therapy and changes in patient behavior. Practical skills such as hygiene and self-care, specifically for patients with severe mental health issues, could be addressed more easily and with less discomfort in animals’ presence.

Animal-assisted therapy can also help individuals develop social skills, helps clients realize behavioral cues practiced with a therapy animal can be used beyond 45 minutes than they are with the animal and apply this skills to other settings whether it’s getting along with their peers or talking to their counselor.

The relationship between the therapy animal and the therapist can also be a model for a healthy relationship, clients gain information about how to form and maintain relationships and trust by watching how a therapist responds to the animal and the animal responds to the therapist. That interaction helps the client feel safer in a session.

The presence of animals themselves is soothing and can more quickly build rapport between therapist and client. In addition, therapy animals, especially horses and dogs, have built-in survival skills. That makes them able to pick up social cues’ imperative to human relationships.

Animal-assisted therapy are powerful, they accept you for the way you are, flaws and all, are forgiving and always happy to see you. Their behavior is just so consistent and so consistently happy that it’s just comforting to people knowing that there is a being there that you can always count on to be happy to see you and not judge you for anything you’ve done.

How to prevent Relapse: Stages of Relapse

By: Ellen Nghikembua – Psychological Counsellor

A relapse is a return to alcohol or drug use after a period of not using. Relapse is a process and not an event. This is because relapse can start weeks or even months before the actual use of drugs and/or alcohol. Before one starts using again, there is an process which happens that will eventually lead to physical relapse. One of the key aspects of relapse prevention is to be able to recognize the early stages of relapse in hope to take the necessary precautions to avoid getting to the physical relapse that is the actual use of drugs and/or alcohol. In order to do this, it is necessary to recognize the stages of relapse.

Continue reading “How to prevent Relapse: Stages of Relapse”

How to Deal with Rejection

By: Celeste Allies – Social Worker

Rejection is an almost unavoidable aspect of being human. No one has ever succeeded in love or in life without first facing rejection. We all experience it, and yet, those times when we do are often the times we feel the most alone, outcast, and unwanted. In fact, so much of the hurt and struggle we endure isn’t even based on the loss itself but on what we tell ourselves about the experience, the cruel ways we put ourselves down or flood ourselves with hopeless thoughts about the future. Studies even show that our reaction to rejection is also based on elements and events from our past, like our attachment history. As a result, how we react to rejection is often equally or even more significant than the rejection itself. This is why learning how to deal with rejection is so important!

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What is Wellness?

By Sindy Haman – Bel Esprit Hospital Matron

Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life, more than being free of illness, it is a dynamic process of change and growth.

Why Wellness Matters?

Maintaining an optimal level of wellness is crucial to live a higher quality of life. Our wellbeing directly affects our actions and emotions. It is important for everyone to achieve optimal wellness in order to subdue stress, reduce the risk of illness and ensure positive interactions.

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The Perfect Diet: Truth or Mystery?

By: Olivia Matthaei

We all know the problem of getting onto a scale and seeing those scary numbers. Again, too much weight on the hips. So, let’s diet. Day one of a diet always goes extremely well. We are highly motivated and every time if we need to choose between the stairs or elevator, we obviously take the stairs. Day 2 goes quite well – we might just take the elevator because we did so many stairs yesterday. If we really push ourselves, we can make it through the first week of the new diet, but after that first week, it starts: We get nauseous, we get bored of eating/drinking the same every day, we are lacking energy and are grumpy because this whole situation is just irritating and still our scale shows us we did not lose a kilo. So, we stop by that nice bakery just around our office block, buy a good coffee and one of their oh-so tasty cinnamon buns and say to ourselves, “Diets are just not working for me”.

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Abortion, the problems we face…

By: Leescha Daniels




  1. the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy; most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy.
  2. the expulsion of a foetus from the uterus by natural causes before it is able to survive independently.

The title of this blog is ironic owing to the fact that it seems in our beautiful democratic country, Namibia, abortion and pregnancy issues are not a ‘we’ problem but a problem for women and young girls who have to hide their pregnancies, or who have no support from their government or families or partners. Those women who are expected to walk into clinics and announce that their pregnancies as result of incest and/or rape, the implications thereof seem to fall away. It is equivalent to asking a man to walk into a police station and admit he is in fact a rapist.

Continue reading “Abortion, the problems we face…”