Here’s Why Everyone Needs To Go To A Mental Health Clinic

To check-in or not to check-in?


Ondela Mlandu |

Mid-year rush comes in many different forms — it could look like a new lease on life, to conquer the remaining six months of the year or it could look like burnout. For me, it was the latter.

About a year ago, I found myself in a mental health clinic and it was one of the best experiences of my life. After suffering from a few anxiety attacks, it had come to my psychologist’s attention that we had a lot more work to do than he had thought. This “work to be done” came with a few conditions, in order to get to a point of healing. The first condition was: I had to be admitted into a mental clinic for a three-week programme. The next condition was to have no access to my car. “Well then, I  may as well call it jail,” I thought to myself.

I was wrong. Going into a mental health clinic is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact doing so is a courageous step to creating a meaningful life.

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Checking into a health crisis clinic is nothing new. People do it for several reasons and it’s normal.

I walked into the clinic dragging my bag, with my stomach in knots and sweat trickling down my face. “This was a bad idea. I’m completely fine,” were some of the thoughts playing in my mind. I was in denial about how I was not okay. Fears and worries from the past had resurfaced and pretending to be fine was far too overwhelming for my own body to comprehend. I registered at reception and the lady reassured me that my time would be wonderful. “It’s like being in a hotel,” she said. I tried to force a smile, but I wasn’t convinced.

Settling in was the toughest part, not knowing how I was going to survive three full weeks made my head spin. What sounded like a good “break” from the normal routine, now seemed like a bad idea. Turning back wasn’t an option. Week one involved attending a variety of sessions ranging from yoga, drumming, handcrafts and group sessions covering topics such as boundaries in relationships, time and stress management and even emotional processing sessions. I had become well acquainted with the other patients and soon discovered that these patients were everyday people, with different careers ranging from teachers to company executives. These people had either voluntarily checked themselves in or had been there because of their doctors. I had great admiration for those who checked themselves in, mainly because I’m not sure I would have had the courage to make the big step without an extra push. I made the most of my stay with some days being harder than others. Knowing that I was working towards inner healing made the journey a bit sweeter.

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I completed my time at the clinic and definitely came out stronger with effective methods. I still use these methods to cope with my everyday life. If you’re weighing in on whether or not you should check-in to a clinic, here are a few reasons why it’s worth considering:

1/ You’re completely out of your comfort zone.

If being vulnerable isn’t your thing, then you have another thing coming. The facilities create a safe and comfortable space during the different sessions you attend. The facility I was in had a three-week programme with different activities lined up for each week. To get into a routine, the sessions would begin at 9 am and end at 5 pm. Nobody forced you to attend, but we were encouraged to do so.

2/ You unlearn a few life lessons.

Remember all those unkind words you used on yourself that shattered your confidence? If you’re up for it, you learn to love and appreciate yourself again. One of the sessions that stood out for me the most, was about ‘creating healthy boundaries’. Each session is broken down in the most simple way possible and you’re given tools to be assertive when it comes to relationship building.

3/ Rest is key.

How many of us are guilty of saying we rest, meanwhile we don’t? The facilities encourage less usage of electronic devices to make sure you get the most of your stay. Afternoon naps become king and you’re guaranteed to feel refreshed.

4/ Your meals are prepared.

You’re fed breakfast, lunch and dinner with tea snacks in between. The food is prepared according to your dietary requirements.

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Your story doesn’t define you. Getting help is a greater reward then straining your mental health. Being admitted to a mental health facility is not anything like jail. In fact, the lady at the reception was right, it did feel like checking into a hotel.

You can also get assistance for depression and anxiety from the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG).

READ MORE ON: Health Health Advice Life Life Advice Mental Health