MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS STRIKES BALANCE BETWEEN AFRICAN AND WESTERN PRACTICES
By: Winston Sibanda
Durban University of Technology’s Counseling Centre held a two day mental health awareness workshop this week.
This drive was aimed at educating students about psychological issues as well as informing them about what the centre offers.
Guest speaker psychologist Molelekoa Kometsi confronted society for how it handles mental related illnesses. He said most people are afraid to consult psychologists because of how society will view them.
Kometsi urged students to utilise the institution’s counseling centre regardless of their cultural backgrounds.
He said as psychologists they look into one’s cultural beliefs when attending to a patient.
Kometsi said, “We are making a drive towards integrating Western and African ideologies on treating mental illnesses.”
He said what people consider to be the origin of the sickness determines where they seek treatment. He added that psychologists are there to help patients not to question their culture.
One of the institution’s intern psychologists Jessica Parker said there are many affordable ways of de-stressing. She said people can use their five senses to relax. She mentioned the use of different smells like lavender and lemons as relaxing elements. Parker acknowledged that stress is one of the common factors which lead to mental illness.
According to one of the centre’s psychologists Anita Da Silva, most students are not utilising the counseling centre.
She said she has realised that most students who have psychological issues tend to keep them to themselves.
“We want to raise awareness about what we offer because there is no health without mental stability,” said Da Silva.
Philile Mtshali said some people have difficulties in expressing themselves. She said that the use of art is also an important part of self-expression. Da Silva added that it was a good initiative for the counseling centre to have an art stand during the workshop.
According to Da Silva, a lot still needed to be done to bring awareness to students about the use of the counseling centre. She urged everyone to feel free to come up with ideas on how to reach out to students.