Approximately six million South Africans could be suffering from stress. This observation by Dr Eugene Allers, former president of the South African Society of Psychiatrists, highlights the great need for mental health interventions in the country. Studies also show an alarming rate of mental illness in many of the country’s low-income and informal settlements. This situation reflects the reality across Africa. In Kenya for example, the UN reports that some 25% of the population are affected by mental illness.
Experts say some of the causes of this disturbing level of mental disorder include high incidences of crime, unemployment, poverty and hopelessness. A severe shortage of mental health professionals further complicates the situation. For instance, “only 27% of South Africans reporting mental illness receive treatment.” In Kenya, an estimated 11 million people who suffer from mental illness are treated by only about 80 psychiatrists and 30 clinical psychologists.
Therefore, in 2021 Africa Capacity will partner with internationally respected mental health professionals to bring emotional, physical, interpersonal and spiritual healing to the forgotten poor. Specifically, this program will improve the mental health of 30 formerly incarcerated persons in South Africa’s Eastern Cape by providing them with a basic understanding of trauma and how to manage it. In addition, participants will be trained in several life skills designed to help them attain personal transformation and healthy relationships.
The program will also equip several informal care providers with a sound knowledge of mental health conditions and best practices in counseling. Spouses, children and extended family members of the 30 formerly incarcerated persons will also be taught how to improve their personal well-being.
The formerly incarcerated persons will also be introduced to the process of restorative justice. This will help participants understand the roots and ripple effects of crime, as well as proven means towards reconciliation between offenders, victims and their communities