The Speaker of Council, Cllr Nonceba Molwele, last night discussed spiritual, mental and social stigmatisation on her weekly talk show known as "Talk with the Speaker of Council" that takes place on Wednesdays.
It has become very important that communities are constantly made aware of this illness which often has tragic consequences because of lack of understanding of what is it, symptoms it manifests and the support needed for the person.
Above all, Madam Speaker hopes to create acceptance so that those who live with this illness feel supported. "It is for this reason that I want to probe further around this subject and in particular bring in the element of spirituality as it relates to mental health.
"In some instances some people who have the ancestral calling present very similarly with psychotic behavior or depression and/or bipolar. It could have been that Mama Sangweni was one such case," she mentioned.
She had invited some experts to unpack further on the issue, namely;
● Dr Fundile Nyati, a medical doctor, a specialist and a family physician. He is also the founder of Proactive Health Solutions and also a City's Legislature Civic Education partner,
● Gogo Bakhombisile Maseko, a national co-ordinator for the Traditional Healers' Organisation,
● Gogo Ramphelane Moruthanyane, also a Traditional Health Practitioner from the Traditional Healers' Organisation and lastly
● Ms Sylvia Stevens, a social worker and a representative of Johannesburg Faith Based Organisation.
Dr Fundile talked about a wild range of mental health disorders called mental illnesses where a person can no longer able to function appropriately either at work or at home or both.
"Studies have shown that some people with ancestoral calling, sometimes they present as if they have mental illness and are mistaken as 'mad' people but after the ancestoral training they become well."
Ms Stevens alluded to the fact that mental illness causes a lot of suffering, disability and anxiety as people do not understand it, what to expect and where to seek for help and in between is a lot of myth.
"We need to have family discussion and families have to reach out for support from a number of professionals, family practitioner, traditional healer, psychologist etc. and should not take wrong conclusions on their own," she cautioned.
They all agreed that there is no cure for mental illness since it's a condition like chronic that needs to be taken care of, supported and managed. Society must stop self-hate as is not of their own making.
More campaigns, education is needed. Partnership with NGOs, the City, traditional healers, civil society organisations can assist dealing with stigma thereof.