UKZN Nursing Engages with the Community
Fourth-year Psychiatric Nursing students from UKZN went out into their communities this year as part of their final-year curriculum. Four projects, led by the students themselves, engaged with four different community groupings in order to assist those communities with mental health and social issues in and around Durban. The projects were overseen by their lecturer Ann Jarvis.
In the first project, six Psychiatric Nursing students, who called themselves the King Dinizulu Group, presented a study named ‘Early Psychosis and Relapse Signature’, which was aimed at creating awareness around mental illness in the community and to reduce and prevent the relapse of psychiatric symptomatology.
The group consisted of Miss Phathwakahle Mvubu, Mrs Raize Atcha, Miss Nomalanga Mkhize, Miss Hlengiwe Buthelezi, Miss Sikhulile Mathenjwa and Miss Bongiwe Cele. They decided to pursue this project after discovering that there was an increase in the number of Mental Health Care Users (MHCUs) that had been readmitted to the King Dinizulu Hospital due to relapse. The objective was to identify the gaps in knowledge and information in the community regarding mental illness and to raise awareness about relapse. The project was led by Bongiwe Cele.
Cele highlighted that early management of relapse helped in the journey to recovery as it decreased the risk of drug resistance in the MHCU thus decreasing the duration of the recovery process, making it cost effective.
The second project was called the Wentworth Community Presentation July-November 2015. It was conducted by a group comprising Miss Sinenhlanhla Bhengu, Miss Thobekile Conco, Miss Shanelani Ngidi,
Miss Nokubonga Qwabe, Miss Yolanda Sihlwayi and Mr Simphiwe Mabaso. They hosted a Mental Health Peer Leadership Programme at Fairvale High School focusing on drug abuse.
The students were innovative in their approach through the inclusion of the community group’s senior citizens – Malibongwe Senior Citizens, headed by Norma Maclou. They recognised the senior’s expertise as a resource for information on matters related to children and substance abuse and had them work alongside the peer group. This proactive move has potential for a long term healthy partnership. Their collaboration also involved other community stakeholders, namely Wentworth Psychiatric clinic, in particular Verantia Juganath and Linda Bailey, Wentworth community police, and the ward counsellor.
In her presentation Ngidi said that the catalyst to the project was that whilst working at Wentworth psychiatric clinic the group observed that many MHCUs had a history of drug abuse - mainly illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin and mandrax, in particular cannabis. She said: ‘A number of recent research projects have linked cannabis and schizophrenia, suggesting that cannabis use may trigger, worsen or cause an earlier onset of schizophrenia. The information that we got from the warrant officer at the police station suggested that all the above-mentioned drugs are abused by youngsters in the community and that helped us to come to a conclusion that drugs have a great impact on mental conditions.’
Mr Stephanus, a teacher as well as leader of FAR (Fairvale Awareness and Recovery) from Fairvale High School linked the group with learners who demonstrated good leadership skills. In order to gauge parental guidance, the group also worked with the Malibongwe senior citizens. The group had six sessions with the learners including the launch of the project. The topics included in the sessions were stigma around mental illness; the link between cannabis and schizophrenia; and depression among teenagers.
The project appeared successful in meeting the aim of creating awareness on drug induced mental illness, especially schizophrenia. It was instrumental in developing preventative measures against mental illness and in empowering the leadership skills of the learners who will be involved in sustaining this project. In future they will work hand in hand in this new partnership with the fourth year Bachelor Nursing students of 2016, their teachers at Fairvale High School, the Wentworth psychiatric clinic and Malibongwe, as they work together towards awareness and recovery from substance abuse.
In the third project, the Chatsworth Community Project 2015 group worked with Grade 8 learners from Montarena Secondary School, focusing on developing an increased sense of self-esteem and self-respect. The group comprised Preashni Chetty, Nikita Trentelman, Danell Brand, Thandeka Chili, Nothile Khuzwayo and Zibuyile Nkosi, supported by the school principal Mr PG Govender and his team.
The last project, Phoenix Community Project 2015, was conducted by Miss Busisiwe Nkabinde, Miss Thembelihle Vilakazi, Miss Nqobile Zondi, Mr Ditshehle Mphahlele, Miss Kholiwe Dlamini, Miss Zodwa Nzuza and Mr Felix Munyesheli. It was titled: “Together in Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder”. The project was aimed at establishing support groups for parents with children diagnosed with ADHD at Phoenix’s Starwood Psychiatric Clinic. The students, together with Ronika Ganes from Starwood Clinic, equipped parents with sufficient knowledge about the disorder and also facilitated a workshop which introduced support groups.