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An empowered woman who empowers her community

Our mental health and wellbeing should come first in all we do. Yet we are all guilty of pushing through difficult circumstances while ignoring the warning signs that we need a mental break.

The hustle culture, which encourages people to work hard until they are exhausted and burned out, is detrimental.

The fact that we are presently experiencing a mental health crisis has been amply noted.

We chat to mental health ambassador, author, medical doctor and philanthropist, Dr Bongiwe Tlailane about the importance of having those deep conversations about mental health.

A medical doctor with a special interest in Psychiatry, she holds Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, with a Diploma in Mental Health as her highest qualification.

The Johannesburg born mental health ambassador is on a mission.

“Healing cannot happen unless the wrong things that happen in the family are acknowledged. For everyone in the family to be able to be vulnerable enough to communicate openly and honestly. To choose to respect each-other with the understanding of the cultural background parents have, refined in the modern context of raising children”.

Writing to address depression

Her motivation for writing books came from her mother who did a thesis in mental health whilst working as a nurse and from raising her two young children as a single mother.

Dr Bongiwe also has a brother whom she journeys with through his mental health challenges and is currently supporting financially.

Having gone through a personal experience herself with depression in 2019, she wanted to motivate herself and in turn, her books became a motivation for others because of her altruistic approach to life. After writing her books in 2019 she became a self-published author, a motivational speaker, a philanthropist through an outreach programme of giving away her books and a blogger. She delights in contributing to her Gratitude Sunday post on social media.

Dr Bongi strives to make an impact by giving children the skills they need to be able to constructively and emotionally regulate the compounding stressors that they are faced with these days.

“I would like to be known for being authentic, vulnerable and community (people) orientated as an author. Wanting all of us to have access to tools that help our emotional quotient not only or intellectual quotient because God could put you in the most unlikely places to make a difference.”

Harnessing deeper mental health conversations

Part of being a visionary means being misunderstood at times. Dr Bongi admits to facing the challenge of editors not understanding her vision. She ended up self-editing her books because she didn’t want the rawness of her message to be diluted.

This of course meant self-funding her project, from marketing costs to distributors who take about 90 percent of book sales and finding time to sell from her boot to generate a bit of profit.

“As an entrepreneur, you often feel you are losing more than you make especially when you are selling at a smaller scale. I am full-time doctor, so I have to take vacation leave from work every time I do anything book related.”

About her books

She has published self-help books written for adults and families to have deeper conversations with teenagers. She is the author of motivational books for children, Just Bee…Authentic and A New Me. She promotes.

SELF-AWARENESS: Embracing your emotions; connecting them with your thoughts and actions so that you can understand who you are.

SELF-AFFIRMATION: Fully excepting yourself, acknowledging your strengths, working on your flaws and being comfortable in your own skin so that you can embrace who you really are. Self-Love and Self-Care are important aspects of affirming self.

SELF-RELIANCE: Discovering your purpose and what you are passionate about through enhancing your gifts and talents. Trusting in God and your own inner resources to make it in life.



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Editor's note

American novelist Louisa May Alcott said it best when she said “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”

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