HEALTH AND WELFARE

Impact of violent crime on mental health

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Fourways-based Witkoppen Clinic has warned about the long-term impact of trauma on people living in South Africa. The non-profit organisation (NPO), which services many communities including Diepsloot, Msawawa and the surrounding areas, has seen an increase in individuals seeking mental health services in the past year.

 

“Exposure to such high levels of violence can lead to complex trauma and other psychological problems,” says Shelley Bernhardt, Counselling Psychologist at Witkoppen Clinic. “Individuals who have been exposed to violent crime need to seek professional help.”

 

Trauma can lead to a number of serious mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. “Left untreated, trauma can affect a person’s ability to function in their daily lives. Other stressors, such as unemployment can add to the problem,” says Bernhardt.

 

Witkoppen Clinic is calling for increased awareness and education around mental health issues. Their goal is to encourage more people to seek help. “Speaking about your traumatic experience is often the first step to recovery. If you have suffered an emotionally traumatic experience, or you’re worried about someone you know – help is available. Talk to someone you trust or contact an organisation such as the South African Depression and Anxiety Group,” says Bernhardt.

 

Witkoppen Clinic provides comprehensive healthcare to almost 10,000 patients every month. The clinic has a Mental Health Clinic which offers counselling and support for people struggling with mental health issues. Based at 105 William Nicol Drive, Fourways, Johannesburg, the clinic is open from 7.30am to 4pm every weekday. The first visit is free.

Services include:

  • A registered Counselling Psychologist, available to provide psychological services such as therapy and school assessments.
  • A mental health doctor, who is able to assess and prescribe medication if indicated.
  • Outreach is offered to the nearby Diepsloot community including the provision of psycho-educational workshops at the schools in the area.
  • The Mental Health Clinic works in conjunction with the other departments at Witkoppen Clinic to ensure comprehensive psycho-social care for their patients.

For more information on the other services Witkoppen Clinic provides, visit their website at www.witkoppen.org. Interesting facts and service updates can be found on Facebook (@WitkoppenClinic) and Twitter (@Witkoppen105).

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