(Published - 16 October 2019)
“Mental illness is a global problem affecting individuals of all ages, races and ethnicities, yet, it is a problem that is often ignored. People with mental illness are stigmatised in many of our communities because of a lack of understanding. As South Africa recognises mental health month this October, the goal for UWC fourth-year Nursing students is to create awareness around mental health and mental illness” said Harritte Ekole Chaba, Lecturer and Fourth Year Nursing coordinator. The class was divided into groups to carry out projects focused on mental health awareness in various locations. The groups and projects are as follows:
Groups 1A & 2A: Creating awareness about substance abuse at Esangweni Secondary School and in the Klipheuwel community on 10 October, 2019. Facilitators included Ms J Abubu, Mr L lolwana, Ms H Chabanga and Mr S Gwany
The students raised awareness about the relationship between substance abuse and mental illness. They addressed misconceptions about mental health and discussed access to existing services that are provided in the community. Furthermore, they are developing strategies to prevent drug abuse by introducing extramural activities for the pupils. Theses activities serve as constructive alternatives to indulging in substance abuse. The students are also working at forging a collaboration between clinics, police and the community in the fight against substance abuse.
Groups 1B & 2B: Creating awareness around depression and anxiety in adolescents at Florida High School and Fisantekraal High School. Facilitators included Ms Laura Tengeh, Mr K Wopa, Mr Ashley Kordom, Ms Desiree Abrahams and Mr F Awah.
This outreach project was aimed at engaging the community about depression and anxiety. Students also shared strategies that could assist in managing depression, and provided details about available support strategies, such as involvement in sport. Sport improves mood and provides a chance to unwind and engage in a satisfying challenge. Ultimately, this helps to minimise the chance of depression taking hold. This project was supported by the school principals.
“I am highly touched by the fact that you came to our school. I can tell you already that learners are using the field and are playing the games that you prepared on it. Thank you for the stationary, soccer equipment, and netball balls and nets,” said Mr Thabiso Moatsana, principal of Fisantekraal High School.
“We are very glad to be a part of your team. How could I not thank you for introducing us to a great sponsor like Ford.”