‘Town and gown’ approach boosts Bay health

They quietly go about bringing change – through the advancement of medicine, empowering students, saving the environment or helping communities. A pioneering group of Nelson Mandela University academics has been honoured at the institution’s Research, Teaching and Engagement Awards.


Missionvale Community Psychology Centre team│‘Town and gown’ approach boosts Bay health

The Missionvale Community Psychology Centre’s team, from left, Dr Jennifer Jansen with fellow academics Sihle Ntlangu, Terence Townsend and Lauren Maytham received an Engagement Excellence Team Award from Nelson Mandela University
The Missionvale Community Psychology Centre’s team, from left, Dr Jennifer Jansen with fellow academics Sihle Ntlangu, Terence Townsend and Lauren Maytham received an Engagement Excellence Team Award from Nelson Mandela University

An award-winning psychology centre in one of Nelson Mandela Bay’s most impoverished townships is making a dramatic difference to hundreds of lives – and highlighting the critical importance of a multidisciplinary approach to healthcare in SA. 

Nelson Mandela University’s on-campus Missionvale Community Psychology Centre not only dispenses a valuable service to indigent patients, but gives psychology students a unique opportunity to practise clinical skills on a communitybased training platform, centre leader Dr Jennifer Jansen said.

“The [centre allows] students to learn from, with and about one another, across a variety of disciplines, in one university, while also addressing the surrounding community’s needs.

“A transdisciplinary mental health platform contributes to outreach, service training and engagement.

“Collaborative relationships in the community are broadening, because of the intermediary role the centre is playing, thus bringing the proverbial ‘town and gown’ into more effective contact with each other through outreach projects.”

Dr Jansen was awarded an Engagement Excellence Team Award at Nelson Mandela University’s Research, Teaching and Engagement Awards for the innovative work being done by her team.

The centre’s focus reflects a multidisciplinary approach to health, which the university says is the driving ethos behind the opening of South Africa’s 10th medical school in 2020.

The centre’s programme reflects a “shift in focus from, primarily, only psychology intervention to a multidisciplinary one that adds psychiatry, psychometry, occupational therapy, social work, advanced psychiatric nursing, and registered counselling,” Jansen said.

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