By: Mpho Shelile

Mental health is a fundamental human right that should be accessible to all individuals. Help Lesotho and other institutes liaison in nurturing mental well-being and fostering resilience in order to empower beneficiaries to reach their full potential and make healthy decisions which impact them and those around them positively.

Depression is a complex mental health condition, with symptoms that can lead to physical, mental, behavioral and emotional challenges and impact various facets of life.

Studies show that it is a mental health condition characterized by persistent sadness, lack of energy, loss of interest, and fatigue. Depression actually comprises several different depressive disorders, including major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, and seasonal affective disorder. While its exact causes are unknown, depression has been linked to chemical imbalances in the brain, genetics, and environmental influences. 

Depression is more common in teenagers and can be long-lasting and have a wide-range of effects. Identifying such difficulties early and offering appropriate support is key in bringing about positive change for young people. However parents and professionals are not always aware of key signs and symptoms of depression or what to do when teenagers are faced with such difficulties.

It’s crucial to recognize the signs of depression and seek professional help when needed. Treatment options may include therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and support from friends and family. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, reaching out to a mental health professional is an important step toward recovery. 

Everyone who experiences depression and low mood swings are likely to have a different set of experiences. However, there are often similar features, and you might recognize some ideas that are relatable. Some experiences are very common in teenagers and can be triggers for vicious cycles. Many young people may be bullied or have negative experiences with friends. They are also often under pressure from school to perform well in exams and coursework, and may be involved in other hobbies that put them under pressure.

That is where Tṧane Foundation comes in, Tṧane Foundation was established by Lekhetho Khama in 2021 and the name was inspired by an indigenous grass that is only found in Lesotho.  He relates quite well to how strong the grass manages to grow stronger no matter the storms it faces. Adding that the foundation offers free counselling to schools like Botho University and many others, it is a mental health awareness organisation that provides free counselling to young people.

“We have about two professional counselors ‘Mrs. Mantai Ramangoaela and Mrs. Maseipati Seakhi also my wife ‘Mateboho Khama who are doing an exceptional job in making sure that our organization touches every Mosotho that is mentally unwell. He further explained that in a way, the foundation serves as a link between mental health institutions where the team offers counselling services to patients. If a patients need to go for psychiatric evaluations, Tṧane Foundation takes them to a mental institution.” he said

The organisation visits high schools and tertiary institutions where its team hosts awareness campaigns. The team is made up of 12 professional counsellors who offer their services on a voluntary basis.

Khama told Informative newspaperthat he would like to see the foundation spread throughout the country. “Some people still do not have an understanding of what we do and, worse, there are those who still do not understand what mental health is,” he indicated.

To address this problem, there was a need to hold more campaigns to educate people what mental health is. “So mental health awareness should be something we discuss daily so that it becomes a norm, I believe people will not be afraid to come forward and seek help so that means less suicide attempts. Our message is; People with mental health disorders should not self-diagnose and should stay away from drugs,” Khama said.

Though depression is a psychological condition, it can lead to serious physiological complications. The mind-body connection closely links our mental and physical health, so challenges that affect our mood may also impact our bodies. The physical manifestations can include lack of energy, fatigue, and body pains, “I believe that depression is a cave that one lives in without even being aware that they are in, there can be so many million people willing to help you get out but you cannot because there will be others in your way telling you that you are crazy. Basotho are not really supportive of mental illness.”

Many people with depression struggle to put themselves in social situations, the community is very judgmental. Even spending time with family and friends might seem unattainable at times. This is frequently related to worry and fear of being judged or rejected. As a result, people with depressive symptoms often isolate themselves. 

 Though the above-mentioned effects of depression can be challenging and varied, depressive disorders are considered highly treatable conditions, with up to 90% of those receiving care responding favorably. Treatment for depression typically consists of therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Therapy can help you identify the sources of depression, process the emotional effects of the condition, and address co-occurring mental health challenges. 

He concluded by stating that depression can manifest physical, emotional, and cognitive challenges that may affect various aspects of life. Despite these complications, depression is a treatable condition. “If you are looking for help as you navigate depression, consider utilizing an online therapy platform. With the right support, you can address the symptoms of depression and limit its negative effects.”