Increasing access to mental health counselling in Khayelitsha
Banetsi Mphunga was all smiles when he removed the huge white cloth to unveil his revamped mobile clinic
It has been Mphunga’s long time vision to use his services as a registered counsellor to provide kids in the township with free help dealing with psychological trauma.
The Volkswagen Microbus, popularly known as iCaraCara in townships (or combi more generally in South Africa), was just a plain green before. But now it is colourful and branded ‘The Kasie Counsellor’. With lime and white leather seats inside, Mpunga said that his dream was at last materialising.
“I finally got here with the help of the South African College of Applied Psychology (SACAP) and the continuous support of the Mandela Park Samora Machel community.
I have been offering my services working as part of the Township Parents and Children’s Counselling Centre, but now it is going to be great doing my work in a branded vehicle. Some people saw my combi, but didn’t know what it was about, but now everyone will know,” said Mphunga.
Lance Katz, CEO of the SACAP, said “Banetsi’s work is raising important awareness that mental health is critical to the overall well-being of the individual, the family, the community and society as a whole. We believe this partnership will make an important contribution in bringing mental health to the community.”
Mphunga said he bought the combi out of his own pocket, using his last few cents.
“When I bought the combi, I told the kids in the community that it’s theirs. Children in the community are stigmatised about mental health issues. They are called names by peers. So it is important for us to educate and show people that these issues can be dealt with in a proper way.”
Mphunga does call outs and house visits and his mobile clinic caters not only to Khayelitsha, but other areas such as Philippi and Gugulethu.
He said the most common cases he came across were those that involved substance abuse. His patients tended to be parents who developed depression and anxiety and other conditions because of their children’s addictions.
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