In order to contribute to enhanced mental health in the country, Liberty Two Degrees has announced a collaboration with the newly launched Panda mental health app. The property company manages some of the country’s most well-known shopping centres such as Sandton City, Nelson Mandela Square, Eastgate, Midlands Mall and Liberty Promenade. The Panda app makes it easy for anyone to improve their mental wellbeing by anonymously connecting to valuable resources curated by a team of mental health professionals.
It is estimated that one out of every three South Africans will suffer from some form of mental health challenge at some time in their lives. Lesser known is that most South Africans struggle to afford mental health support. The festive season can be a challenging time for many people, often exacerbating feelings of loneliness, self-doubt and inadequacy in the face of opulence and the celebratory nature of the period. This collaboration is designed to bridge that gap by making mental health resources freely accessible.
Starting at the Sandton City centre, which attracts an average of 2 million visitors per month, shoppers will be provided with QR codes to download the app to their smart phones on the free wi-fi provided. Additionally, encouraging messages urging people to embrace the support provided by the app will flight on the electronic billboards inside the centre, on the centre’s digital platforms and in direct communication channels. Using the promo code #SandtonCity, users will also get access to seven thirty-minute sessions of direct text-based support from a mental health professional*. The campaign will be implemented in the other centres managed by the property group from early in the new year.
Users of the app will have access to the ‘Bamboo Forest’, which allows them to engage other app users who may be facing similar challenges and participate in audio-only peer or expert-facilitated group discussions to gain a better understanding of mental health-related topics. They can also create communities within the Bamboo Forest, aligned with their individual interests or support needs, whether it be depression, financial stress, anxiety, or even guidance for families with loved ones facing mental health challenges. Additionally, the app provides scientifically-validated assessment tools to enable users to measure their mental wellbeing. A gamified tracking tool lets them document and monitor their progress on their personal mental health journey.
The collaboration forms the next iteration of the property group’s #CreateTomorrow campaign, which has been recognised for its positive contribution to South African society. Recent outreaches include the donation of parking income to community organisations working to uplift people living in poverty.
“We realize that the past two years have been very challenging for many families. Mental health affects how one thinks, acts, feels and copes in life” said Jonathan Sinden, Chief Operations Officer: Liberty Two Degrees. “We are thrilled that Liberty Two Degrees can play a role in making mental health support accessible to South Africans at this time when it is so necessary,” he added.
The Panda App is the brainchild of Allan Sweidan, a clinical psychologist who previously co-founded and headed up the Akeso Group of Psychiatric Hospitals, and Alon Lits, former GM and Director of Uber in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Alon Lits emphasised that he is humbled that such a large property and mall management group is taking the wellbeing of its customers seriously. “As festive blues affect so many of us, we are immensely proud to be partnering with Liberty Two Degrees and of course, Sandton City to emphasise the importance of mental health. Reaching out for support when feeling depressed, overwhelmed or anxious is so important and nothing to be embarrassed about.” Sweidan added “This partnership is critical in helping us normalise mental health and ensuring that support is now more accessible through technology.”