Lifestyle

Bridging the gap in mental health service delivery in Gqeberha

Eberhardt Wellness and Counselling offers high-quality mental healthcare services at affordable rates

Kayla Eberhardt (centre) and her team at Eberhardt Wellness and Counselling in Walmer, Gqeberha.
Kayla Eberhardt (centre) and her team at Eberhardt Wellness and Counselling in Walmer, Gqeberha.
Image: Supplied/Eberhardt Wellness and Counselling

Kayla Eberhardt and her team of registered counsellors at the newly established Eberhardt Wellness and Counselling practice in Walmer are getting candid about mental health care in Gqeberha this month. 

Eberhardt has always had a passion for mental health issues and helping others. However, after the loss of her mother in 2020, she has focused her efforts in honour of the late Gussie Eberhardt, establishing Eberhardt Wellness and Counselling in May this year. 

With her team of five, including three registered counsellors, the Eastern Cape native’s practice offers high-quality mental healthcare services, at affordable rates, across the diverse Gqeberha community. 

“Too often mental health care is stigmatised or is entirely inaccessible for millions across the world, and this is especially true for many in Gqeberha. As we approach World Mental Health Day, during this second year of the pandemic, we need to prioritise our mental health and advocate for the most vulnerable in our communities,” says Eberhardt.

World Mental Health Day, marked on October 10, was themed this year by the World Health Organisation as “Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality.” With Covid-19 placing an increased burden on the SA healthcare system, mental health service delivery is under further strain, making access more difficult for many living in impoverished areas.

Missionvale Care Centre is at the front line of healthcare service delivery in one such area. Centre manager Sabrina Lambers says communities across Gqeberha are struggling to get to grips with healthcare issues, especially mental health issues. These have been worsened by rising poverty and the impact of the pandemic. 

“Collaboration with the client, community and healthcare practitioners, within the private, public and non-profit sectors is important in this fight for equal access to good mental health care. With our national healthcare system unable to cope with the overflow of patients requiring counselling, it’s up to the non-profit and private sectors to step up and answer the call,” says Lambers. 

Senior registered counsellor at the practice, Nitin Prag, says Eberhardt’s Wellness and Counselling is hoping to break away from the silo approach to mental health treatment and advocacy, heeding the call for greater collaboration within the profession and community.

“As registered counsellors, we are the first responders in a mental health situation, which is why we need to have a more integrated and collaborative approach to treatment and advocacy for our clients. This starts with getting down to the basics — we need more conversation about mental health issues because it affects each one of us, regardless of our income level and backgrounds,” says Prag.

With so many South Africans struggling in this pandemic with the effects of isolation and elevated stressors at work and home, particularly for healthcare workers, Eberhardt Wellness and Counselling is encouraging the community to join in on the conversation. The practice will be sharing useful tips and resources about mental health issues throughout the month in the #YouAreNotAlone initiative, on its Facebook and Instagram pages.

“The campaign is about easing this sense of isolation that many have been experiencing in a practical and affordable way. By creating a sense of community, we hope to lessen the load for people by simply keeping the conversation alive and motivating them,” says Eberhardt.

Registered counsellors at the practice share their tips for good mental health as we approach yet another festive season in this pandemic:

  • Practice intentional deep breathing. Breathe in for four counts and out for four counts. Try slow, deep breathing in the morning and evening for a few minutes, and any time you are in a stressful situation. This will slow down your heart rate and the increased oxygen will help relax your body and focus your thinking.
  • Get to know your stress triggers and spend time problem-solving on how to better manage your emotions in these moments. Speaking to a mental health professional could help you to better resolve stressful triggers.
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Movement and exercise have been scientifically proven to help elevate your mood, decrease stress and anxiety and improve the quality of your sleep. Too much caffeine, sugar and processed foods increase blood pressure, affect sleep patterns and elevate anxiety levels.
  • Journal or put your thoughts to paper. By writing down your thoughts, you externalise your anxiety and make it easier to process your thoughts and problem-solve.

Eberhardt Wellness and Counselling is located at 58 Main Road, Walmer, Gqeberha.

The practice offers individual counselling, school readiness and scholastic assessments, career assessments, group therapy and various psychoeducational workshops.

For more information or to book an appointment, call +27 (0) 87-160-0836 or visit www.eberhardt.co.za.

This article was paid for by Eberhardt Wellness and Counselling.

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