Mental Health

Lockdown anxiety? Comedian Nina Hastie and her shrink can help

05 April 2020 - 00:00 By KYLE ZEEMAN
Nina Hastie.
Nina Hastie.
Image: Gallo Images

Lockdown has left South Africans feeling anxious, uncertain and isolated. So comedian Nina Hastie is offering free online sessions with her and psychologist Hanan Bushkin to help people deal with mental illness and calm fears about the spread of Covid-19.

The sessions, held on Hastie's Instagram Live platform daily, have attracted a global audience since their launch last week, with the actress speaking of her own struggles with anxiety and depression.

Hastie is best known for her satirical news shows such as Late Nite News and The Bantu Hour, and as a presenter of the popular SABC3 entertainment show Trending SA.

She has been a victim of sexual assault on three occasions and has overcome alcoholism and drug addiction. She has been working with Bushkin for more than a year and credits the psychologist with helping to pull her out of some dark spaces.

Hastie told the Sunday Times her own experiences had helped her understand the uncertainty and struggle many may be going through at the moment.

“I lost everything. I started again from nothing. I had to figure a way out of it and the only way I could do that was to plan and take it one step at a time. That's more valuable now than ever because a lot of South Africans are going to lose everything.”

Beyond the sessions, Hastie is working on a podcast with fellow comedian Nik Rabinowitz called Otherwise You Well?, a comedic approach to wellbeing that she hopes to launch in the next few weeks. The two are in talks with a radio broadcaster.

Bushkin, a practising psychologist for 16 years and owner of A Really Good Therapist Centre at the Anxiety and Trauma Clinic in Sandton, Johannesburg, said the biggest concern many had during the lockdown was in dealing with the unknown.

“We can't predict when this will end or what will happen, or how the world will look when this is over. My biggest advice to people is to control what you can and let go of what you can't. Find or create elements you can control and focus on that.”

Several well-known South Africans have also spoken out about mental illness.

Actress Makgotso Monyemokathoe — known as Kamogelo Tsotetsi on Isidingo — said: “You need to watch and listen to things that will uplift and encourage you. Things that will get you in the right frame of mind, because once your mind is defeated, you're defeated. Look after your mind.”

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