Get a shoulder to cry on for just R50 a session
The much-needed initiative comes as SA faces an increasing mental health burden
Last year, 39-year-old Capetonian Patrick lost his mother and nephew within a few months of each other.
The Maitland man is still grieving, but he is reluctant to talk about his feelings to family and friends because he thinks he should “be over it” by now.
Patrick knows he needs therapy, but he can’t afford to see a psychologist privately, and the mental health services at local clinics and hospitals are overwhelmed.
Now a new low-cost centre in Woodstock, which offers counselling for R50 a session, is set to close the gap and help those like Patrick, who often fall through the cracks of the health system.
The Counselling Hub, which opened on Thursday, is the brainchild of the SA College of Applied Psychology Foundation (SACAP) and the Kaplan Kushlik Educational Trust.
It will offer one-on-one sessions as well as free group workshops, allowing people with low incomes to seek professional support to help them navigate life challenges.
The centre will use lay counsellors, qualified psychologists and students, who will all work there voluntarily.
Even though SA is facing an increasing mental health burden, exacerbated by drug use, violence and unhealthy lifestyles, 80% of psychologists work in the private sector.
This results in 2.75 psychologists for every 100,000 people. Only one in four South Africans are able to access mental health services.
Kentse Radebe, executive director of the SACAP Foundation, said only 4% of the health budget went to mental health.
Shifra Jacobson, co-ordinator and supervisor of the hub, said private healthcare was unaffordable for many South Africans.
“In the public sector there is such a limited amount of mental health workers that are employed by the state that it’s difficult to do ordinary everyday counselling that many of us need to continue with our lives and to feel good about who we are.”
She added: “Mental health specialists such as psychiatric nurses in hospitals and clinics are so overwhelmed by severe mental health issues … that they don’t have time to sit and talk with patients.”
Hub co-founder Romi Kaplan said the centre was also meant for people with medical aid who may need its services after they run out of funds.
It would provide short-term counselling of no more than six sessions to help people get back on their feet during crises.