Fostering Mental Health During Turbulent Times Through an Afrocentric Approach

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Ms Manoko Ratala.
Ms Manoko Ratala.

The College of Humanities and the School of Applied Human Sciences recently hosted a wellness webinar on the topic of “Fostering Mental Health During Turbulent Times: An Afrocentric Approach”, presented by Ms Manoko Ratala, Industrial and Organisational Psychologist at Sekgwari Consulting.

The webinar focused on identifying factors impacting mental health in a tumultuous socio-economic environment.

DVC and Head of the College, Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize, said, ‘Mental health challenges are increasing by the day, not only in South Africa, but globally. Mental health issues have, in fact, been declared a silent crisis in South Africa. As a College, we will endeavour to organise regular webinars to conscientise each other about the challenges of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.’

Said Ratala, ‘Mental fortitude is required for healing the individual and collective trauma experienced over time and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the KwaZulu-Natal floods, July unrest, as well as a consequence of turbulent times in South Africa.

‘Most people, especially those disenfranchised by the inequities of the system, are not able to access mainstream counselling and therapy sessions due to the financial challenges brought on by the pandemic.’

She also lambasted universities for not considering and offering African psychology and for not decolonising the industrial organisational psychology curriculum. As a call to action, she said, ‘Let us come together to add and complement each other in terms of our knowledge and challenges that we’re experiencing and find a way to co-create solutions.’

She raised issues of inflation, interest rate hikes, high cost of living, crime and stagnant salaries as contributing factors to mental health and depression. ‘We continue to be consumers, materialistic and stressed about things that don’t even add value to our lives. Call out personal symptoms of inferiority and replace them with constructs of healthy self-esteem.

‘The inability to respond healthily to the continuous pressures has resulted in a spike in the number of suicides, depression and total disengagement from daily life demands. African knowledge systems encompass a number of tried and tested interventions that can be used in the moment and over time for psycho-spiritual release. These activities are suitable for both individuals and the collective because in Africa, I AM because WE ARE’.’

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