Mental health help available in ’Plain

Pictured clock-wise, from left, are social auxiliary workers Henrietta Japhta, Bukiwe Fosi, Fountain House club member Paul Kleinbooi, 40, from Rocklands; club programme director Rene Minnies; and Zaida Frank, senior rehabilitation worker.

Only a third of the 120 mental health patients knocking at the doors of Mitchell’s Plain District hospital every month, can stay.

This means that 80 patients with a mental illness, which affects a person’s thinking, feelings, mood and ability to relate to others, are in and out of psychiatric facilities.

About 40 Mitchell’s Plain mental health patients have to travel to Observatory for psycho-social rehabilitation (PSR), a continuum of care for adults with psychiatric disorders by increasing the functioning of people in their environment, with the least amount of professional intervention.

Last month Fountain House (South Africa) opened in Mitchell’s Plain to give mentally ill people the ability to develop their skills and abilities, to gain work experience and to be integrated into society.

Programme manager Rene Minnies told the Plainsman that Fountain House was an international organisation with its roots in the US and was established in 1948. It is run as a club with patients being called members and they take ownership of its activities, the space and its members.

“People, who have mental illness are subjected to stigmitisation and discrimination every day, experience high rates of abuse, social exclusion, unemployment, poverty, malnutrition, inadequate housing, inadequate health care and other human rights violations,” she said.

There are 400 clubs worldwide with the same philosophy and standard.

Cape Mental Health has adopted this model, which has been operating in Observatory, with 41 of its members living in Mitchell’s Plain and 45 in Khayelitsha.

According to their successful proposal to the Department of Health, 90% of these members were active in the programme and commute to Observatory, while the rest could not afford transport costs.

The Westridge home, 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 moods 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.

Paul Kleinbooi, 40, from Rocklands, who was a member of the Observatory club, has since joined the local club.

He has been saving R525 in travelling costs, as he gets a lift to and from the clubhouse. Otherwise he can use a taxi, which costs R8 a trip.

“I am very excited about the new meeting place,” he said.

Mr Kleinbooi has taken responsibility for his health and enjoys being kept busy at the club by doing different tasks, as and when they arise.

Zaida Frank, senior rehabilitation worker, explained that the activities members engage in are matched to their capabilities.

So as they were settling in Westridge, members were tasked with moving furniture and setting up workstations.

Cape Mental Health offers services in the Mitchell’s Plain Erika Special Education and Care Centres, for children with intellectual disability. For more information call Mdu Dube on 082 448 0352.

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

For more information about the local house, you can also call the Observatory office.