Mental Health Lecturer Shares Her PhD Findings with the Public
Nursing Mental Health Lecturer at UKZN, Dr Winnie Cele, harnessed the power of radio to share the findings of her PhD study with the broader public. She highlighted the importance of mental health and the stigma attached to mental illness in interviews on Ukhozi FM (KwaZulu-Natal), Umhlobo Wenene FM (Eastern Cape) and Ligwalagwala FM (Mpumalanga Province).
Cele’s study investigated the extent to which the national Mental Health Policy Framework has been implemented in various institutions, with a focus on the integration of mental health care into HIV services in selected primary health care settings.
‘The findings were used to develop a model that would in theory, facilitate the implementation of the policy framework and the integration of mental health care into HIV services at primary health care level,’ she explained.
She added that ‘Mental health care is complicated and more so when it co-occurs with another illness such as HIV which carries its own complexities. Mental health cannot be treated in isolation from other illnesses. It is therefore essential for mental health and HIV services to be integrated.’
Integrating mental health into medical services at primary health care level could also curb the stigma associated with the treatment of mental disorders. ‘This can be achieved by task-sharing mental health care services among primary care workers, leading to improved access to specialist mental care in the face of limited resources. Health workers’ perceptions of the treatment of co-morbid mental health conditions and HIV infection can be improved through the adoption of a pragmatic model that can be sustained over time. Such models should address the educational needs of health care professionals and their negative mind-set and fears about the integration of mental health into HIV services at the primary health care level,’ said Cele.
According to Cele, numerous studies have shown that collaboration is an important factor in the development of policies. She said that new policies should be introduced to the staff who are expected to implement them.
Moreover, ‘more staff should be appointed in order to reduce the mental health patient workload and institutions should establish multi-disciplinary teams to provide people-centred holistic care.’
The response to Cele’s radio interviews was positive, with listeners phoning in to request more information on mental health issues.
Words: Nombuso Dlamini