Webinar to Launch We Care Wellness Programme
UKZN staff need care and support to cope with the disruptive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and related societal challenges.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize launched the College’s We Care Wellness Programme at a recent webinar. The programme is integrated and aligned with the institutional wellness programme.
The webinar was facilitated by Professor Matshepo Matoane, Dean and Head of the School of Applied Human Sciences and College Wellness Champion.
Mkhize highlighted the need to promote mental health. The Global Burden of Diseases analysis estimates that by 2030, non-communicable diseases including neuropsychiatric disorders, will account for seven of the top 10 causes of the disease burden, with depression being the leading cause.
‘We are also realising that people’s quality of life is severely affected by mental health issues, with many unable to live fruitful, happy lives. Mental health has been referred to as a silent crisis that is of international concern,’ added Mkhize.
He noted that South Africa suffers from a shortage of mental health professionals, psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists, and psychological counsellors. Furthermore, most mental health specialists would have been trained using a biopsychosocial model which excludes the spiritual component.
‘Traditional healing has been incorporated into South Africa’s primary healthcare system for many years, but the Traditional Health Care Act has not been implemented at the appropriate level for, among other reasons, legal issues and a lack of communication between the parallel health systems,’ said Mkhize.
Ms Busisiwe Ramabodu, Human Resources Development Director noted that it was important that programmes such as the CHUM Wellness Programme exist in order to ensure that help seeking behaviour is destigmatised.
‘Access to mental health services is very limited especially in a poor country like South Africa, but we are very fortunate at the University of KwaZulu-Natal that all our employees have access to these services and these services are provided for free to employees directly as well as their immediate family members. Not many people in the country can say the same.
‘I am very excited that the College is creating this platform and this safe space and I hope that all the line managers in the College are going to embrace it because most of the time we see poor performance and see poor behaviour, and say it’s because the employee is irresponsible or is a shirker before we look at what actually is going on with the employee,’ she said.
She added that we all have a responsibility to ensure that UKZN overall has employees who are well both physically and mentally.
Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela