The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has brought unprecedented disruption to our lives. Now you can understand how COVID-19 impacts physical and mental health and how to maintain our wellbeing. Also learn how to keep your children, teens, the elderly and all loved ones healthy through COVID-19.
Opening special needs schools safely in the context of COVID-19
Ilana Gerschlowitz is director of the Star Academy, which caters for the education needs of children on the autism spectrum or with a related disorder. She is also the author of a book called “Saving my sons - a journey with autism”. In her latest podcast, she shares key insights into safely re-opening schools that cater for children with special needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ilana shares ideas on which protocols to put in place and even tips on how to get special needs kids to wear a face mask. Ilana’s message is always one of hope and innovation to get through every challenge and her latest podcast is no exception.
Top tips: Dr Odette Volmink on keeping high-risk household employees and family members safe during COVID-19
One of the groups that’s been economically hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic is the roughly 1.2 million household employees who work in South Africa. These employees have eagerly anticipated their return to work and their employers have looked to welcome them back. However, the pandemic has resulted in anxiety about the impact of movement between our home and the homes of others on our health. Household employers also worry about exposing those considered high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 – whether family members or employees – to increased risk. Medical doctor and occupational medicine specialist Dr Odette Volmink (based at the National Institute for Occupational Health) understands this well. In this interview with Discovery she explores the ins and outs of keeping those who are at high risk safe, with a focus on high-risk household employees and other members of the household.
Discovery sends Pulse Oximeter to high-risk 74-year old assisting in his COVID-19 recovery journey
Multiple members of Dewald Wentzel’s immediate family who live on the same property – including his 74-year-old father – contracted COVID-19 within days of each other. As a trained paramedic, Dewald knew that a pulse oximeter was critical to monitoring the seriousness of his father’s symptoms while he recovered at home. The device measures the amount of oxygen in the blood, which can decline to critical levels in some people who contract COVID-19. Yet, none of these devices were available at any pharmacies Dewald contacted. That’s when he found out that Discovery Health Medical Scheme members who contract COVID-19 and fall into the high-risk category for severe illness from the disease, have access to a fully covered pulse oximeter. The device, which allows for home oxygen monitoring, is sent by courier to the member’s home, and supported by the Discovery Healthy Oximetry Support call centre. Thanks to this easy-to-use device, any dangerous decrease in oxygen saturation can be quickly detected, and medical assistance requested.
Manage your COVID-19 re-entry anxiety
When COVID-19 lockdown was first instituted it might have felt unfathomable to stay at home almost 24-7. Now despite the easing of alert levels, for some of us it may feel strange and nerve-wracking to do anything but stay at home. Psychotherapist Louisa Niehaus explains why we may be feeling so-called “re-entry anxiety”. It manifests as we contemplate or act on reintegration to society, as we go back to schools and universities, to shops or work. This anxiety can also present as we interact with others, especially where we don’t trust that they are making every effort to limit their exposure to COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic is now a part of life and we must make space for the emotions that adjusting to this reality brings. Louisa explains what drives re-entry anxiety and how to deal with it best.
Make sense of your feelings of suffering
Clinical psychologist Dessy Tzoneva says it’s impossible to deny that being human comes with many limitations. People we love can become ill and die. We might suffer illness or serious injury. Across the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought these realities to the fore for us all, also acting as a catalyst to widespread human suffering. People are living with loneliness, fear, anxiety, great social and financial uncertainty, a prolonged loss of freedoms and more. With COVID-19’s effects set to impact our lives for months to come, Dessy expertly talks us through making sense of suffering, before sharing brilliant insights on how to cope at this time and always.
Inside COVID-19” BizNews: Alec Hogg explores private primary healthcare for household employees for R249 per month
Around 1.2 million people work as employees in private households in South Africa. These individuals provide an invaluable service in their roles as domestic workers, gardeners, drivers and caregivers. COVID-19 restrictions have eased, and household employees are returning to work. However, both employers and employees share concerns around the health of the household during COVID-19 and into the future. Could access to very affordable private, primary healthcare for household employees – that also provides cover for COVID-19 – make all the difference? Alec Hogg interviews Discovery’s Head of Employee Health Solutions, Nonkululeko Pitje, about Discovery Primary Care for household employees, a product that brings excellent healthcare to household employee and their dependants. This innovative, affordable product has never been more relevant.
Advice on bringing household employees safely back into the workplace
As lockdown alert levels have eased, household employees have been allowed to return to the homes in which they work. They return to a “new normal” that has raised many questions around how to keep every member of the household as healthy as possible. Household employees may care for the home, for an elderly or ill family member, for a child, or perform another function. They may live with their employer or come and go. Dr Nompumelelo Ndaba of the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH) shares the practical steps and insights needed day to day, to ensure the health of the household going forward. Dr Ndaba has been interviewed by Discovery for the Discovery COVID-19 podcast series.
Advice for parents on the pros and cons of remote learning in the time of COVID-19
As the weeks of stay-at-home orders and school closures continue nationwide, parents are questioning whether isolation measures and physical distancing are doing lasting damage to their kids’ emotional development. Clinical psychologist, Candice Cowen, considers the positives and negatives of remote learning and children’s mental health in general during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also explores how parents can best support their children through learning from home until their return to school.
Why does the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?
A must-listen podcast for anyone who is struggling to cope at this time! Zamo Mbele, a clinical psychologist and board member at the South African Depression and Anxiety Group – SADAG brings profound insight into the ways in which the experience of the pandemic and also contracting COVID-19 can result in trauma that develops into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In a podcast that every one of us should listen to, Zamo speaks to the trauma that might be experienced by people of all ages, as well as by frontline healthcare workers. He explores the emotions we feel at this time and reminds us how critical it is to be taking care of our mental health at this time.
Are you a leader or managing having to let people go?
The COVID-19 pandemic has come upon us quickly and threatens both our survival as people, but also that of organisations and businesses large and small. Many people have already faced salary cuts or job losses Clinical psychologist, Dr Colinda Linde knows that many business owners and leaders are now faced with letting go of staff. They also face the anxiety and fear of job loss themselves. How should leaders cope with the decisions that must be made, and how should they communicate these decisions to their staff?
Have you been retrenched, or lost your job? Re-think your skills
Losing a job means losing income, security, purpose and more. Clinical psychologist, Dr Colinda Linde says it’s to expected that when we are faced with this sort of situation, we will go through stages of grieving. She clarifies what to expect emotionally and physically as well as how to better cope. Then, she inspires us to really think about our skills in new ways that could open up avenues we haven’t before thought to consider.
We’re returning to a much-changed workplace. Here’s what you can expect and how to adapt.
When we return to work, we will enter a new space on many levels. We are entering unchartered territory. There is bound to be some discomfort as we adapt to changed fundamentals in the way in which we greet each other; the way in which we interact; share communal spaces, laptops, pens, meeting rooms and more. Many things we once took for granted can no longer be done mindlessly. We will also need to interact while wearing masks, removing unspoken facial cues from the interaction and making communication harder. So many facets of work life have changed. Clinical psychologist Sheethal Behari, who practices at PsychMatters in Johannesburg, shares practical advice on the changes we can expect to deal with, and tools on how to manage these new scenarios.
Protect yourself from COVID-19 with these practical habits
Specialist Physician (Hepatologist) Dr Neliswa Gogela works at the frontline of treating the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa. She shares the simple steps you should follow every day to protect against contracting COVID-19. Dr Gogela works as a Specialist Physician at UCT Private Academic and Groote Schuur hospitals. Dr Gogela is first recipient of the Discovery Foundation Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Fellowship Award. She received the award in 2012. Over the past seven years, the Discovery Foundation has worked to develop the next generation of leaders in academic and clinical medicine in South Africa through this award. Valued at R2.1 million, this grant enables a talented specialist clinician to spend a year at MGH - Harvard Medical School’s largest teaching hospital - gaining expertise to enhance their work in South African hospitals.
Practical tools for staying grounded when you feel fear and anxiety
The presence of COVID-19 in our world has many of us are worried about our own safety and the safety of our loved ones. For essential workers and people who are returning to their places of employment as lockdown conditions ease, these fears may become overwhelming. Educational psychologist Zaakirah Mohamed says each and every one of us feels fear, stress and anxiety at the moment and these feelings, or any forms of mental illness we may have, are not a failure on our behalf. We must reach out for help. She also shares several practical tools through which we can help ourselves to cope, from mindfulness and breathing exercises, the 5-4-3-2-1 sensory exercise, focusing on what we can control, avoiding the news and social media first thing in the morning and last thing at night before bed and more great tips and tools to support our mental health.
Virtual consults allow GP to connect with his patients and limit the risk of COVID-19
Along with eight other people, GP Dr Grant Bekker was quarantined following close contact with one of the first patients to contract COVID-19 in South Africa. Since returning to work, the way in which he runs his practice has changed entirely and digital tools have taken precedence in staying connected with patients. Dr Bekker explains how he sees many of his patients are seen first through telephonic consultations or virtually through Discovery Health’s DrConnect app, for triage and screening purposes. This GP feels that remote consultations are likely to be key management tool going forward.
Our mental health at work before, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has put the spotlight on mental illness. A common statistic cited before the pandemic was that 1 in 7 people at work would have had a common mental health disorder at any given time. Now, our lives and ways of working have been disrupted in significant ways. Psychiatrist, Prof. Christoffel Grobler discusses the need for added sensitivity to mental illness in the workplace going forward. There will be a great need to recognise the signs of mental distress and ensure early intervention, to enable employees to continue to function as productive members of a business. Prof. Grobler is an Associate Professor at Walter Sisulu University and Member of the South African Medical Association Committee for Human Rights, Law and Ethics.
COVID-19 can affect any employee. How should we respond?
In the coming weeks and months, even more businesses will resume operations and employees will return to their places of work. What should employers and their staff understand about COVID-19 to stay healthy, and to prevent discrimination in the workplace against individuals affected by COVID-19? Dr Ahmad Haeri Mazanderani is a clinical virologist in the Centre for HIV and STIs at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in Johannesburg. He explains what we need to know about dealing with COVID-19 in the workplace, and supporting those who return to work once they have recovered from COVID-19.
Keeping children and their parents mentally healthy through COVID-19
Children thrive when they feel safe and protected, when their routines are in place and when their family and community are healthy and stable. However, COVID-19 pandemic and the global measures enforced to contain its spread have disrupting nearly every aspect of children’s lives. Clinical psychologist Joanna Kleovoulou explains the impact these dynamics have children and teenagers. She also delves into why it is critical that parents focus on their own mental health and that of their children to mitigate the impact of pandemic-related life changes on children’s future mental health.
Keep your relationship healthy during COVID-19
Have you found that the pressures of ongoing lockdown and enforced containment measures, have put pressure on your marriage or intimate relationship? Psychotherapist, Louisa Niehaus, explains how confinement, adapting to new routines under duress, working remotely, home schooling, the stress of confronting an uncertain future and the added gravity of COVID-19 – can be a tinder box for couples. How should you navigate this pressure?
Online consultations with patients are a must in the time of COVID-19
Many GPs have understood that their patients are extremely anxious about the risk of exposure to COVID-19 at their doctor’s rooms, and will avoid seeing their doctor even if they have a medical issue that requires attention. Dr Charlene de Greef, a GP based at Mayo Clinic in Johannesburg, has recently embraced online consultations, done through Discovery DrConnect, to allow her to continue to care for existing patients and to manage patients who develop possible symptoms of COVID-19 in a way that keeps everyone’s risk of exposure to the disease at a minimum. Find out why DrConnect has become an invaluable tool in managing all patients in the time of COVID-19.
Now, telehealth is key to keeping doctors and patient connected
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the uptake of telehealth technologies and remote consultation with patients using telephonic or virtual platforms. These platforms have existed for a long time, but the time of COVID-19 and increased physical distancing, they have become indispensable to patient care. Psychiatrist, Prof. Christoffel Grobler shares his insights on the ways in which telehealth platforms are emerging as an effective and sustainable solution to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus and how telehealth may change the face of doctor-patient consultations long-term. Prof. Grobler is an Associate Professor at Walter Sisulu University and Member of the South African Medical Association Committee for Human Rights, Law and Ethics.
Prof. Priya Soma-Pillay shares we you need to know about COVID-19 and pregnancy
Pregnancy is a time in which a woman’s health is of utmost importance. What does it mean to be pregnant in the time of a pandemic such as COVID-19 and what does this illness mean for mothers to be? Azania Mosaka interviews Professor Priya Soma-Pillay to find out all that pregnant women need to know. Prof. Soma-Pillay She is the newly appointed head of Obstetrics and Maternal and Fetal Medicine at Steve Biko Academic Hospital and the University of Pretoria. She is also Interim President of the College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists of South Africa as well as the Honorary Secretary of the South African Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. In other words, she is really the leading obstetrician in South Africa.
Chief Marketing Officer at Discovery shares lessons in adaptive leadership in the time of crisis
What makes for a good leader in the face of a crisis? There is no easy way to navigate the unprecedented impact that COVID-19 has had on our country and the world. The reality is that, for South African people, businesses and our economy, the consequences of COVID-19 will play out over the rest of 2020 and beyond. What does it take for the people who lead others, no matter their context, to adapt to the unprecedented circumstances in which we find ourselves? Azania Mosaka and Firoze Bhorat, Chief Marketing Officer at Discovery, explore this challenging question and reflect on leadership styles and practices that have helped to guide, enhance and protect the lives of others, in the time of COVID-19.
COVID-19 and maintaining mental health during and after a pregnancy
The mental wellbeing of a pregnant woman will affect the way in which her pregnancy progresses and also impact her unborn child on many levels. So what does the stress and worry that we all feel in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic mean for all the mothers to be out there? Professor Renata Schoeman is a psychiatrist and Head of the MBA in Healthcare Leadership at the University of Stellenbosch Business School. She is also an alumna of the Discovery Foundation and has contributed extensively to mental healthcare in South Africa. And she is particularly passionate about the subject of mental health in pregnancy for a very special reason – she is a new mom! She gave birth to her little boy very recently … and found herself in her final trimester when COVID19 reached to our shores.
Dr Ryan Fuller: How does the COVID-19 pandemic affect people with dementia?
We are all concerned for the health of elderly loved ones who are at high-risk of severe illness should they contract COVID-19. But, for older people who live with dementia - and their caregivers - this is a particularly trying time. People who have dementia have a limited understanding of COVID-19 as well as of the preventive habits needed to keep them safe. Old age psychiatrist Dr Ryan Fuller explains dementia and its causes, how to keep a person with dementia safe in the face of the pandemic, and the role of a care centres, primary caregivers and loved ones at this time.
Dr Colinda Linde: How to manage our response to COVD-19 as we return to the workplace
Clinical psychologist, Dr Colinda Linde, explains the emotional intricacies of returning to work after lockdown, and overturning fear and stigma related to COVID-19. Some may feel fear in the face of interaction with colleagues who have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19. But if we allow stigma and discrimination in the face of COVID-19, we will cause people to hide their symptoms or deter them from seeking medical help. How can we all respond to support each other to stay safe and healthy in the workplace, going forward?
Dessy Tzoneva: Dealing with the loss of a loved on to COVID-19
Many people the world over have had to face the loss of a loved on to COVID-19. How should we communicate with and support a loved one who contracts COVID-19 and develops serious illness that threatens their life? And, how might we come to terms with their death? Grief is a unique experience for each of us, says clinical psychologist Dessy Tzoneva. And, the current pressures brought to bear by COVID19 could make grieving even more challenging at this time.
Coping with a child who has autism, at home, during COVID-19
Managing the daily lives of typically developing children during lockdown is challenging for any parent or caregiver. However, for parents of a child who has autism, the stay-at-home period and all measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 can be particularly challenging. Ilana Gerschlowitz is a mother of three sons, two diagnosed with autism, and author of “Saving my sons – A journey with autism”. She is also the director of the Star Academy. Ilana shares invaluable tips around helping a child with autism through the day, and keeping them safe and healthy through COVID-19’s disruptions.
Could you be experiencing grief in the face of COVID-19 and lockdown?
Many of us were holding on to the notion of a 21-day lockdown. The most recent extension of the stay-at-home period to the end of April 2020, has reinforced all that the term “lockdown” implies - a loss of freedom, choice, movement, connection and more. Dr Colinda Linde, clinical psychologist and SADAG board member, explains why we might perceive this loss as real grief. You may well recognise the phases of grief that Dr Linde describes in your own responses. However, did you know that there are healthy ways to express your panic and anxiety, anger or other very valid emotions that result from feeling powerless? Dr Linde tells us how to navigate the journey as best we can, starting today.
COVID-19 ‘s impact on employed parents: work remotely, manage children and maximise your productivity
How can you be as productive as you need to be in your work, while also caring for children at home? Human potential and parenting expert Nikki Bush shares must-know tips to help every parent to manage working remotely, taking care of children’s holistic wellbeing and enforce a sense of control that will reassure children as far as possible. Nikki also speaks to employers about how critical it is to understand every remote employee’s current situation, how this affects the productivity they are capable of and what sort of additional support they may need to get through their work.
How to help teens manage their mental health during COVID-19 and beyond
The changes that COVID19 has brought to our lives that can cause fear, anxiety, stress and confusion for a teenager. What are the signs and symptoms that parents should look out for as indicators that a teen is feeling overwhelmed? Access to local and global news around the pandemic, information obtained on social media and general uncertainty around the future can all affect a teenager’s ability to cope with schoolwork, cope with isolation at home - and even present as physical symptoms such as stomach cramps or other symptoms. Cassey Chambers – Operations Director at SADAG – shares tips and tools for parents and caregivers around recognising that a teenager is handling too much stress, and how to help them.
How do employees and employers grapple with staying productive and managing the disruptions to the workplace?
The world of work has changed overnight – what does this mean for employees and employers? How should we navigate the transition that COVID-19 has brought to every area of our professional lives? Azania Mosaka interviews Dr Tshidi Gule to explore just how COVID-19 has forced us to redefine what productivity means. Dr Gule is a medical doctor who specialises in employee and workplace wellness. She is also the founder of the Medispace Lifestyle Institute and the author of ‘Rough Diamond’, an entrepreneurship and mentorship memoir.
COVID-19: GP celebrates access to virtual (online) consultations for his patients
Globally, the use of telemedicine has proven invaluable in the management of COVID-19. No one knows this better than Dr Sudeshan Govender, a KZN-based GP. He has for years, run a digitally enabled practice. He is used to carrying out virtual follow-up consultations with his Discovery Health Medical Scheme member patients. He does this using Discovery’s DrConnect app. He tells Azania Mosaka that when it comes to COVID-19, virtual access to his patients is proving lifesaving. And, thanks to the new Vodacom and Discovery partnership, now all of his patients – and every single South African – can access Free COVID-19 Online Doctor Consultations.
Key advice to keep our elderly loved ones mentally and physically healthy during COVID-19
Just because an elderly person isn’t asking for help, doesn’t mean that they are coping. How can we ensure that our elderly loved ones maintain their physical and mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic? What are the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 in elderly people and why are the elderly at risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19? How will families know when to seek out emergency medical care for an elderly person? What sort of daily routine will support the elderly through every day? How can technology and apps help to maintain their cognitive health and also stay in contact with loved ones? Psychiatrist Dr Ryan Fuller, founder of the Memorycare healthcare practice, and who specialises in old age psychiatry, shares excellent advice on all of this and more.
Practical tips to implement right now! Stay mentally healthy and manage COVID-19’s impact on your life
Thinking positively during a crisis is often easier said than done. But, it’s really important that we try to make sense of the situation that we are in. It’s also so important to focus on our mental health as we endure the disruption brought to our lives by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s okay to feel anxious and it’s okay to feel stressed. However, there is so much that we can do to help us to cope. Cassey Chambers – Operations Director at the South African Depression and Anxiety Group – shares practical tools to help us to manage our lives, daily routines and more – whether we are working from, looking after family or alone at home.
Understand how to help children through COVID-19-related stress
If you are a parent or if you care for children, then this podcast is for you! Professor Renata Schoeman shares brilliant tips on helping children to cope with the disruption brought to their lives by COVID-19 on all levels. Prof. Schoeman is a psychiatrist in private practice and co-founder of the Goldilocks and the Bear Foundation (which provides screening for early identification of children with ADHD, mental health and learning disorders). She is also head of the Healthcare Leadership MBA at the University of Stellenbosch Business School.
Have you been diagnosed with COVID-19? Here are top tips to help you to maintain your mental health
Cassey Chambers – Operations Director at the South African Depression and Anxiety Group – explains the emotions that accompany being diagnosed with COVID19. She also explores the sort of support you will need while you recover, to allow you to continue to look after yourself and your loved ones as best you can.