Caregivers ‘take a break’ to recharge

Shinaaz Dollie, from Westridge, Faldelah Dollie, from Portland, Abeda Benjamin, from New Woodlands, Joan Daniels, from Colorado Park, Cape Mental Health social worker Mastura Salasa-Schaffers, and Avril Koopman, from Westridge.

Mitchell’s Plain mental health caregivers were told to take a break and recharge to continue serving their children and loved ones with mental disabilities they look after.

Cape Mental Health hosted a caregivers’ day at the Nelson Mandela Family and Youth Centre, in Tafelsig, on Wednesday November 27.

Social worker Mastura Salasa-Schaffers said they wanted caregivers to catch their breath and not give up looking after their adult children with mental disabilities.

“We want to remind you of how special you are and tell you that your sacrifices are appreciated. You are special, don’t give up. You know your child better than the doctors,” she said.

Ms Salasa-Schaffers works from Fountain House, in Westridge, which gives mentally ill people the ability to develop their skills and abilities, to gain work experience and to be integrated into society (“Mental health help available in ’Plain,” Plainsman December 20, 2017).

The “House” was an international organisation with its roots in America and was established in 1948.

It is run as a club with patients being called members, and they take ownership of its activities, and space.

Field social worker Amy King sees up to 40 clients a month, whom she refers to her colleagues, Ms Salasa-Schaffers and auxiliary social worker Jonita Lendoris.

Ms Salasa-Schaffers said due to the stigma attached to mental illness, caregivers were not completely comfortable speaking about their loved ones living with psychosocial disabilities.

Those who attended the event did were each given a “survival kit to get through the hard times”, including a highlighter “to light up your day when days are dark; marbles, for when you think you’re losing yours; string, to tie up the loose ends; a paper clip, to hold everything together, when things fall apart; a safety pin, to remind you to stay sharp; a feather, representing power and passion; a star, to wish upon; a rubber band to stretch yourself beyond your limit; a coin, to show you are never too broke; sweetener to sweeten your day; tea to remind you to relax and have a warm cuppa.

The Westridge house, at 179 Dagbreek Road, can accommodate 100 members, who have been medically diagnosed with either bipolar, a disorder characterised by extreme mood swings between mania and depression; schizophrenia, a chemical imbalance in the brain that results in disturbances of thinking and feelings, disturbed and inappropriate emotions, and changes in behaviour; and depression, a state of low mood and a loss of interest in activities.

Drug and alcohol abuse can also lead to a mental illness, and mental illness can lead to alcohol and drug abuse.

Members are referred to the club and assessed to determine their ability to complete tasks and interact with others. They live at home and come to the centre for daily activities and programmes.

Cape Mental Health offers services at the Mitchell’s Plain Erika Special Education and Care Centre, in Rocklands, for children with intellectual disability.

For more information on the centre and other services offered by Cape Mental Health in Mitchell’s Plain, call Mdu Dube at 082 448 0352 or 021 447 9040.

Rainbow Foundation has support groups in Tafelsig, Lentegeur, Westridge and Rocklands which cater for adults with psychosocial disability.Call Anna-Beth Aylward at 021 447 7409 at the office in Observatory.

Training Workshops Unlimited, another project of Cape Mental Health, based behind Liberty Promenade Mall, is for people with borderline, mild and moderate intellectual disabilities. Call 021 447 9040 or 021 638 3143 for more information.