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Your mental health is affected by your physical health

Though the recession of 2008 hit us hard, what we are facing now seems tougher. Unlike last time, we have now had to deal with the devastation of Covid-19 (and all it’s subsequent consequences) as well as with the scourge of loadshedding.

 Loadshedding does not only affect our pockets. Research done by SADAG shows that it affects our mental health at well. A recent online  SADAG survey showed that 1 in 10 people have contemplated suicide because of the impact of continuous loadshedding.

Alongside feeling helpless, employed survey respondents (74%) were expected to deliver work, despite outages, adding high levels of performance anxiety and work-related stress to heavy financial demands caused by the secondary impacts of load-shedding (eg. food spoilage, appliance breakages, etc.)

The survey also showed that 96% feared that load shedding will cause long-term damage to the South African Economy, thus leaving many SA Citizens in a worse state than before.  One respondent to the survey said: “I am more prone to things that I never was before such as road rage, losing my temper”

One thing is certain – in order to deal with our debt and our bad financial situation – we have to get our mindset right. Yet, taking all that we are dealing with (loadshedding as well) into account – this is definitely easier said than done.

People who are over-indebted and struggling to survive the crazy cost of living – still have to carry on with their normal lives. They have to be partners in a marriage/ relationship, see that the children are clothed and fed, get their homework done, still travel to and from work – and sometimes even have to deal with toxic situations with colleagues, family and friends. All of this can become extremely overwhelming.

People will talk about their children on drugs and their husbands having affairs before they will tell you that their car has been repossessed or that they are behind with their bond. It is because of this guilt and shame that many bear the burden of debt alone, and find themselves sinking deeper into despair and depression.

Sadly, our communities are quick to pass blame and judgement when something bad happens to someone. Sentiments like “they deserve it” and “ it was bound to happen” often do the rounds. Don’t listen to these people. Their opinions don’t pay the bills – and chances are they are deeper in the doldrums than you are!

There are many things which are outside of your control that can lead to a bad financial situation. Divorce, retrenchment, short-time, unexpected medical expenses and so many other lock-down-related issues can be the cause of a loss of or interruption in income. It is vitally important to acknowledge that these things are beyond your control. However, this does not discount the fact that many people find themselves over-indebted because of their love for name brands, spending irresponsibly and wanting to keep up with the Jones’s

 If there is one piece of advice, I would like to give you, it is this – do not fall into the trap of debt denial. De- Nile, is a river in Egypt, it should not be anywhere near your finances.

If you are doing one, or all of the following – then you are in debt denial and should make the effort to address your financial issues head-on.

  • You purposefully underestimate how much you owe – yet at the back of your mind you know it’s more
  • You don’t answer your phone, because you know it’s debt collectors and creditors calling
  • You leave your statements and bills unopened
  • You make new debt and take from Peter to pay Paul.
  • If you recognise that you are in debt denial – speak to your creditors, a financial advisor, or a registered debt counsellor

If, on the relationship side of things – you are experiencing any of the following, then you should consider speaking to someone who can assist with your emotional issues.

  • Conflict with your partner
  • Constant fighting with 
  • Lack of communication with your family
  • Struggling to control your stress levels
  • Battling to manage your anger
  • Having panic and anxiety attacks
  • Showing signs of depression
  • Just not coping

Call SADAG on one of the toll-free Helplines – 0800 567 567, 0800 456 789 or 0800 12 13 14 (24 hours), or sms 31393 and a counsellor will call you back, or chat to a  Counsellor LIVE on WhatsApp Chatline on 076 882 2775 (8 am to 5 pm), or fill in a contact form on the website www.sadag.org, which has lots of information and tools to help you cope with all mental health issues.

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