Break stigma on mental health

A local community-based rehabilitation centre held an open day recently to create awareness about its work with people living with psychosocial disabilities.

Through its Fountain House programme, Cape Mental Health used the event on Tuesday 31 July to also forge partnerships.

The centre’s managers invited a number of people to witness its work, listen to people’s stories and learn about the benefits of the activities.

“We all have to be aware that mental health affects all of us, upscaling community-based services. It is our aim to break down the stigma of mental health,” says Fountain House manager, René Minnies.

The programme’s main objective is for members to come in and choose activities for the day, including employment programmes­. “You are a member not a patient,” explains Minnies.

This is to make members feel comfortable, like they are attending work.

Around 10 to 15 members show up every day from Monday to Friday, from 08:30 to 16:00. Members attend different activities such as arts and crafts, catering and a workshop unit, to name a few.

On a monthly basis, Fountain House sees 100 to 200 individuals.

The organisation encourages people to be there every day as their administration department keeps attendance records.

“With the rehabilitation that we use, our aim is to equip people with the necessary skills so that they can become satisfied and successful, and empowered in the environment of their choice, where it could be their home or community. Where they socialise and they work. Our services aid integration into families and communities,” says Minnies­.

Fountain House gives on-the-job training and the focus is on skills development.

“Models for employment opportunities are put in place for members. Despite the activities being done daily, the organisation gives job coaching and support for members. When people are work ready, the employment unit and communications unit will do a lot more focused support on CV writing and career guidance,” says Minnies­.

Members come from various areas including Observatory and surroundings.

Their mission is to keep people well and out of hospital. It is about capacity building.

Services for adults are for ages 19 to 70 and up.

“The beauty of this service is the fact that staff and members work alongside each other. Members who are active in this service have said countless times that it is meaningful for them – this is the space where they find the support and the assistance they need. They can learn craftship and if they want to go into hospitality,” says Minnies.

Members are empowered to implement the skills they learn.

The activities they do are not just in-house based, but there is outside support as well, such as placements. In the last financial year they assisted 500 people.

“The fact that people are here, that they have a right to do whatever activities they want to do, is very empowering to them,” explains Minnies.

Fountain House is one of the oldest NGOs in the country and their future hope is to reach all areas.

The organisation is also one of 22 programmes of Cape Mental Health.

Another goal is to expand and upscale in rural communities.V Contact Fountain House on 021 447 9040 or Dylan Oktober on 021 447 9040/082 690?9454.