Metropolitan says ‘knowledge is power’

The same way we take care of our bodies, we need to take care of our minds. Having mental strength does not mean that one is immune to hardship. Rather, it’s about developing habits to build the mental muscle that enables the ability to bounce back from setbacks.

The saying ‘knowledge is power’ couldn’t be more relevant as people navigate this new reality. Unfortunately, times of crisis often give birth to a flood of false information, which has far-reaching consequences. We all have a responsibility to ensure that we consume and share reliable and accurate information. This will help us respond to new situations more confidently and knowledgeably, helping build mental strength.

The Toolkit to Spread Awareness and Take Action on Covid-19 by Voices of Youth and Unicef recommends a set of actions to ensure that the right information and knowledge is shared, while promoting togetherness, community support and spirit.

The actions are organised according to the approximate amount of time they should take a person to complete.

Two minutes:

Share social media messages and graphics from reliable sources such as the national government website, which helps ensure that correct information is disseminated to your social community – avoiding unnecessary panic, stress and anxiety.

Five to 15 minutes:

Test your knowledge. Regularly check your knowledge on what is happening around you and how you should respond to it.

Step in when you hear or see friends or family sharing misinformation in person, on social media or even in a WhatsApp group.

More than 15 minutes:

Act! If you have family who don’t have regular access to reliable news sources, pick up the phone and give them a call. This is especially true for grandparents and others who are more vulnerable.

Help with learning – Offer to help younger siblings or family members with learning.

Take action if someone is spreading misinformation

Private approach – in person or via direct message. They are more likely to be receptive if they don’t feel publicly embarrassed.

Don’t accuse them of spreading misinformation. Instead point out to them that the story or advice they shared doesn’t look like it came from a trustworthy source OR that it is inaccurate.

Redirect them to reliable and trustworthy sources.

By following these tips, South Africans can keep themselves informed with reliable information, while helping curb the spread of false information. Make knowledge your weapon of choice, and develop habits that contribute towards building mental strength.

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