Steps towards healing

Ignorance is Mental Health’s biggest enemy as it prohibits people from seeking treatment


Ignorance is Mental Health’s biggest enemy as it prohibits people from seeking treatment. The first precaution one can take towards recovering from mental illnesses is to acknowledge its existence and seeking treatment.

Often, we are confronted with unhealthy negative thoughts that stem from the multiple realities, the world throws at us. One particularly sad one is South Africa’s high unemployment rate of 29,0%. In this challenging economy, others have the strength to keep pushing and courage to suppress negative thoughts and feelings in order to successfully soldier on. While others start experiencing severe depression that sometimes results in them contemplating their own demise. It is at this stage that one should reach out and get help from professionals.

With as many as one in six South Africans suffering from anxiety, depression or substance abuse problems its clear mental health is a reality that impacts individuals, families, societies and is very much apparent in high-stress environments such as the workplace. This is why it is crucial to understand that you can recover from mental health illnesses.

No group of people is immune to mental disorders making it imperative to understand the process of receiving treatment through recovery clinics and rehabilitation centres which are designed to help patients in their mental health journey. Many people suffering from mental disorders go untreated and suffer on the inside, ashamed and uneasy because they are afraid of the stigma and judgment that comes with checking into a mental health facility or clinic.

Diving into the impact of mental health clinics will shed some light on how they help someone avoid getting worse through categorised treatment. The big question many people ask is; “What do I get by going to rehab and does it even help?”. Mental health facilities are designed to help people or patients find solutions to the psychological issues they are facing.

When you get admitted the first thing, they need to establish is your mental health problem. In order to successfully treat any mental health patient, some mental health professionals devise treatment plans that can effectively address their patients’ diagnosis. These treatment plans follow a patient’s diagnosis, determining the best suitable treatment for a patient’s needs the moment they have been admitted into a mental rehabilitation facility. It’s important to note that not all facilities or diagnosis require treatment plans but most professionals use them to target specific mental illnesses and to track their patient’s recovery progress.

Since every patient’s needs vary, treatment plans are a patient’s strategy towards healing. There are three common ways of recovering from mental illness: Individual sessions with therapists, attending therapeutic group sessions and taking medication that has been prescribed by a therapist.

Different recovery centers use different methods to address mental health disorders, essentially these clinics are there to help people suffering from apparent mental illnesses lead a fulfilling life. Enhancing their competency gives people a chance to achieve their goals. To better understand how patients are treated we looked at the impact of some rehabilitation centres in South Africa. Particularly focusing on the methods, they use to treat patients or otherwise known as the services they provide their patients with once they are admitted. Some had testimonials from happy patients that are grateful they checked themselves in when they did.

Considered the leading provider of private psychiatric services in South Africa, Life Mental Health, has nine dedicated facilities across four provinces in the country. They offer acute mental healthcare in a caring environment. Assisting patients suffering from illnesses such as Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Schizophrenia, Personality Disorders, difficulty adjusting after experiencing major loss, work stress and inability to cope after being confronted with a traumatic experience. They offer eleven methods of treatment or otherwise referred to as services.

Their services are as follows: General psychiatry, treatment for substance dependence or other addictions associated with psychiatric disorders, specialised mental wellness care for work-related stress, bereavement and adjustment disorders. Individual care for involuntary and assisted admissions, dedicated adolescent programmes and behavioural support. Support with diet-related mental illness, and compulsion anxiety, evidence-based drug therapy, individual psychiatric consultations and psychotherapy. Group therapy, physical therapy when needed and lastly their selected facilities offer a Neuro-Geriatric wellness programme (this is a movement and mental gymnasium for elderly patients).

Life Mental Health facilities particularly stand out because they have a reduced-re admission rate and receive a positive impact on patients’ outcomes. Their individual and group therapy is highly effective, they offer a multidisciplinary team of experts and their environment is therapeutic and filled with tranquility.

Papillon Recovery Centre in Johannesburg is considered South Africa’s first health facility to offer complete solutions to people suffering from mental illness. Papillon has been running for eight years, their programme offers a reality-based lifestyle programme which ensures it gives clients adequate preparation for future challenges.

Their treatment programme includes the following: Dialectical behaviour therapy treatment, individual treatment plans, family therapy, psychologist interventions and psychiatrists. They also have the following group therapies: Nutrition group, family dynamics group, cooking group, co-dependency group, mental health relapse prevention group, anger management group, interpersonal skills group, nursing group and a community group.

Mental functioning affects one’s social and physical health outcome. Which is why Papillon provides the following skills to help their patients: coping skills, life skills, mindful budgeting, current events, open art, art therapy and work coaching. These methods cover a wide variety of disorders such as mood and depression disorder, Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia Disorder, Dual Diagnosis Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder.

Life Path Health is a group of private hospitals that provides inpatient treatment for mental health and addiction in South Africa. They have seven clinics and offer a multidisciplinary approach that includes different healthcare professionals. Their treatment options include the following: Unique specialised treatments, multidisciplinary treatments and treatment programmes.

Testimonials from previously admitted patients show that their facility is effective and efficient as their patients were thrilled with the clinic’s team. They talked about the experience they had at the clinic, mentioning the warmth of the stuff and how their stay at the clinic was helpful. Others talk about relief and how a certain weight was lifted off their shoulders, while another patient feels staying at the clinic gave her a new outlook on life. It is evident that these facilities are there to help people and aid recovery, using that as an excuse to not seek treatment is the only way someone can hurt themselves.

The South African government has made provision for public mental health institutions across the country, for those who cannot afford private clinics. In addition to that, reforming the Mental Health Care Act 2002 and developing a National Mental Health Policy Framework and Strategic Plan 2013-2020 shows that they are serious about improving the state of South Africa’s mental health. The main aim of this new plan is to integrate mental health services into general health services to reduce the number of untreated mental health conditions.

However, despite the progress mentioned above, South Africa spends only 5% of the total health budget on mental health services, to improve mental health they need to significantly increase this number.

Mental health challenges affect economic development because if someone is mentally ill, they cannot work, making it essential for employers to know how to tackle mental health in the workplace.

ΩLesley Burns, an occupational therapist who has been working in the mental health industry for thirty years took us through the struggles of mental health in the workplace particularly for the employees offering advice on how employers can help their employees keep their workforce intact when it comes to mental illness.

Stating that, “the biggest misconception about mental illness is that it is not real. Cancer and Paraplegia are real but it is often said that people with depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders just need to pull themselves together and get over it. Asking a person with a major depressive disorder to ‘get over it’ is like asking a paraplegic to get up and walk,” she explains.

“When it comes to mental illness, many employers are quick to seek the path of least resistance, which is to get rid of the employee. This means that they then need to seek, hire and in-service train a new employee, the mentally ill employee loses their job, and the disability insurer has to pay a claim. In this situation both the employee and employer lose. By undertaking an assessment of a person with a mental illness, I can often recommend reasonable accommodations that can allow the person to remain a productive employee,” she adds.

There are many advantages to seeking treatment and checking into a mental health clinic, you will not only understand your condition, particularly the things that trigger you, but you will also be taught how to manage these triggers. Mental health clinics give patients many skills that will assist them when they leave the facility, skills they cannot acquire sitting in the comfort of their own homes or in their office across their computer. Interacting with other patients through group therapy sessions will show patients another side of the spectrum because they will get support from people who are in the same boat they are in. These shared experiences help people heal, it is a safe place full of hope and measures to help them recover. 

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