Surviving the Mental Impact of the Covid-19 Crisis

For most people in South Africa, the last two months have been very tough. We’ve been consumed by the additional admin involved in trying to stay safe during the COVID-19 crisis and for some this has been more of a challenge than others. It has taken up time, energy and resources – some of which were already in scarce supply for many.

For those fortunate enough to continue working through the crisis, many changes had to be implemented. Re-organising working conditions and businesses have been cumbersome. Some people have been trying to do their full-time jobs from home while also homeschooling children, and taking care of household duties that might previously have been outsourced. Some might have had no support, or have partners working in essential services who are not at home to help carry the load.

The question is though, have we counted the cost of the mental and emotional toll this has taken on all of us?

Consider for a moment the impact on us caused by the fear, uncertainty, and isolation. There are the lucky few who had the luxury of using lockdown as a gift of extra time for clearing to-do-lists and achieving goals like developing products or learning new skills and languages. For many, this is far from the case.

A large number of people describe the last couple of weeks as the time in their lives that they have actually worked the hardest, and stressed the most. Think of those working in essential services – trying to do their job but with many new challenges on top of their usual demands. Imagine being without an income with little to no prospect of work or income during lockdown.

For them this “motivational pressure” has simply become an additional source of stress and tension. We might all be in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat.

What has the psychological cost been?

Yes, times are tough, and this is hard for people, but when considering the impact on ourselves, are we willing and able to see the full picture? How are you actually feeling? What is going through your mind? Odds are, it’s been hard on you too.

 “Surviving it” is about how you emerge on the other side in terms of every aspect of your life, including in your heart and mind.

Below are some suggestions as to how to increase your awareness of your psychological state, and ease the blow of the crisis for yourself:

  • Accept that it is alright not to be alright:  We can often take pity on others but then apply a “cowboys don’t cry” perspective to our own lives. Allow yourself the space to heal from the impact it has had on you.
  • Write off unnecessary psychological debt:  Are there things that you felt you should have done better? Getting through this is an achievement in itself. Let go of unreasonable illusions of control and you might see that you have achieved enough.
  • Accept reality and face it head-on:  Focus on what is really important.
  • Be present:  Stop focusing on what could have been and don’t become consumed with trying to gain control. Focus on what you can do, and also, what the important people around you need.
  • Talk about it:  When someone asks how you are, tell them. Talking about your challenges with others is a great way of coping and building resilience.
  • Check your mindset:  How we look at things is crucial. The graph below has been doing the round on the internet. Where do you want to be going forward? In the fear zone, complaining and spreading negativity; in the learning zone, dealing with the realities around me in a positive way; or in the growth zone, taking care of yourself and those around you in a meaningful way?

COVID 19 coping trauma process

COVID-19 will be remembered as one of the defining crises of our time, and even discussed in the same terms as significant social, political, or economic crises in history, including wars, depressions, and natural disasters. During these times, few things are under our control, apart from of course the most important aspect: how we respond.

Taking care of your mental and emotional state will help to get you through this and ensure that there is actually a “normal” to return to, and look forward to.

Met dank aan Camino Consulting


Find help now. - CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) - Hypno-therapy - EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing) - Specific Psycho-Therapy
  • About +


    Jacob Oostenbrink, MA (Clinical psychology) has been in private practice since 1998. He started his practice in Brackenfell and then relocated to Rustenburg where he practiced for 11 years. His practice focused mainly on clinical work but he was often requested to do consulting work in the Mining Industry (which included the selection of employees, treatment of their substance abusers, assisting them with trauma counseling and addressing employees’ emotional well-being).

    In 2012 he relocated back to the Western Cape and opened his Clinical practice in Strand. Although he is registered as a clinical psychologist, he has completed both his internships in consulting and clinical psychology and finds himself comfortable in both areas. Prior to completing his MA degree, he was employed in the business environment for 12 years which has given him extensive experience in the Human Resources field.

    He practices as a clinical psychologist, rendering a variety of services to high school learners (adolescents), adults, couples and business environment. 

  • What is a clinical psychologist? +

    What is a clinical psychologist?

    A clinical psychologist is a person who holds an MA degree in clinical psychology and is registered with the Health Profession Council of South Africa (HPCSA). This profession specialty is mainly concerned with diagnosing more serious mental, emotional and behavioral disturbances.

    Clinical psychologists tend to view emotional well-being in an integrated way by taking into consideration the related aspects of the environment, body, brain and the mind.

  • Why do people visit a clinical psychologist? +

    Why do people visit a clinical psychologist?

    Individuals visit a clinical psychologist because they are troubled with problems, traumas or issues that they are not able to effectively deal with. These problems mostly have a significant negative impact on various areas of their life and may include school-, work-, home or their relational/marital life.

  • How are appointments made? +

    How are appointments made?

    Clients often make appointments for themselves when they have the need to, but are mostly being referred to psychologists by their General Practitioner (GP’s), certain Specialists, Pastors of their congregation, their schools or even by their employers.

  • What types of problems does a psychologist treat? +

    What types of problems does a psychologist treat?

    Individuals seeking help from a clinical psychologist usually require assistance with both assessment and/or treatment of problems or certain conditions. Clients may present with various problems or symptoms for example:

    • Attention-Deficit and Disrupted Behaviour Disorder (including ADHD)
    • Substance-Related Disorders (Including Alcohol, Nicotine, and Drugs)
    • Schizophrenia and other Psychotic Disorders
    • Mood Disorder (Including Depressive Disorders and Bipolar Disorders)
    • Anxiety Disorders (Including Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Panic attacks, Phobias and Obsessive- Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
    • Personality Disorder (Including Antisocial-, Narcissistic-, Avoidant- and Borderline personality disorder)
  • How can we help you? +

    How can we help you?

    Jacob Oostenbrink has thorough experience in the fields of clinical-, counseling and industrial psychology, and does various types of assessments on adolescents and adults for diagnostic, guidance and treatment purposes.

    His experience and interests are in the following areas

    • Mood disorders (such as major depression and bipolar mood disorders)
    • Anxiety disorders (such as panic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder)
    • Substance related disorder (such as alcohol and Nicotine dependency)
    • Personality disorders (assessment and support)
    • Marital- and relational therapy (Imago therapy)
    • Subject- and career guidance
    • Trauma counseling (such as assistance after the death of a loved one, brutal attacks, serious accidents and other life threatening events)
    • Selection/psychometric assessment of personnel (by making use of various psychometric tests)
  • Therapeutic Approach +

    Therapeutic Approach

    Jacob Oostenbrink believes in a holistic treatment approach. It is therefore important to assess clients and their presenting problems in the context of their psychological history (including childhood wounding and other significant traumatic experiences) as well as present life circumstances that are integral to the individual’s well-being. The client needs to be made aware of why his life is disruptive and how he needs to change in order to achieve a state of emotional well-being. Therapy is an active process and personal responsibility is essential. Because no two clients are the same, therapeutic techniques may differ but it will always have the client’s best interest in mind. Compliance with medication, if it was suggested, is important and is used in collaboration with therapy.  

    Jacob Oostenbrink prefers using the following therapeutic techniques

    • Hypnosis/Relaxation Therapy
    • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
    • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
    • Imago Relational Therapy

    “Probably the biggest that happiness is not just a place, but a process...Happiness is an ongoing process of fresh challenges, takes the right attitudes and activities to continue to be happy”.
    -Ed Diener

  • Oostenbrink Clinical Psychologist +
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