“Batswana are living with unresolved issues”- Kennedy

Botswana Network for Mental Health (BNMH) Director- Ms. Charity Kennedy has revealed that they have as an organization realised that Botswana as a nation generally lacks adequate mental health.

According to Kennedy, their case statistics from August 2020 to date have proved that twenty percent (20%) had grief problems, thirty-five percent (35%) anxiety and panic attacks, forty-five percent (45%) depression related, and ten percent (10%) relationship problems.

“From our experience with these cases, we have realised that we as Batswana have unresolved issues, we are living with stress and problems without addressing them, when a challenge comes it unveils all the past problems” Kennedy revealed.

“COVID-19” Kennedy says “have resulted in rising numbers from organizations requesting for support and guidance from BNMH on how to deal with their stuff, especially after they have registered positive COVID-19 cases.”

As a result, they as an organization decided to focus attention on spreading the word on effects of COVID-19 and Managing stress in the workplace. BNMH realised that people in workplaces are experiencing stress due to COVID-19, especially the anticipated second wave, causing decline in productivity in the workplace.

BNMH have since took a step to share coping strategies by specialists on how to deal with grief due to loss of loved ones and loss of job opportunities as “World Health Organization strongly emphasizes workplace mental health as it affects productivity”.

Ms. Shanell Nikolic – a Volunteer Wellness consultant & counsellor at BNMH says managing one self’s wellbeing both at home and work is important in order to know how to cope with stress. Nikolic says some of the coping strategies they help people with are: Breathing techniques, encourage exercising, one on one counselling, group counselling, Online counselling, as well as encouraging people to discuss their problems with someone who won’t judge.

BNMH also offers pastoral counselling. Father Khoma Mantu- a Volunteer Pastoral counsellor in the pastoral says they “counsel people by giving them hope, using mechanisms like meditation, motivation”

“We are in a time where our mental health has been affected by covid-19, starting from lockdowns, and curfews. These have affected Batswana especially how they live. This has affected both our mental and personal life. Every Motswana has been affected one way or the other for example; funerals. It has caused fear and anxiety” he said.

In conclusion, Kennedy encouraged supervisors to observe and consider what can affect their subordinates during this difficult time of COVID-19, i.e. if there are frontline workers, the supervisor/employer should identify the stress they could be experiencing and get relevant help for them. Also encouraged leaders to also seek help psycho-social support for themselves.

“It is important to know that circumstances are there, but how do I as an employer or employee customize myself to respond to change”

Charity Kennedy

Botswana Network for Mental Health was founded 2014 and got registered in 2015. They offer services like: 1) Advocacy, i.e. what can be improved for Batswana to get adequate mental health; 2) Implementation, i.e. bringing services to the nation, like counselling (online & physical); 3) workplace mental health; 4) support of adolescents and youth

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