Healing the nation

Healing the nation

MENTAL health problems have been on the rise in South Africa and this is seen from the
rise in the number of people who commit suicide.

Most people still don’t know where to go for help and others are too scared to seek help.
According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) one in six
people in South Africa suffer from anxiety, depression or substance abuse problems.
These statistics still do not include people suffering from more serious conditions such
as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
The low numbers of psychologists in the country is also not helping the situation.
This is why people such as Dr Thato Ramabele are a gift.
Ramabele is a clinical psychologist in private practice located in Bloemfontein and
assessing, diagnosing and intervening in patients dealing with life challenges is what
she does.
Her job also requires her to make a diagnosis if there is a potential disorder.
She also provides individual psychotherapy, couples’ therapy or family therapy.
She says being a clinical psychologist entails hard work and patience as it takes a lot of
years to qualify to become one. The studies are very challenging, but possible to get
“God has been my greatest pillar throughout my career without him I would not have
been able to make it,” she says.
Born and bred in QwaQwa, Ramabele has an undeniable passion to work with people
and making a difference in their lives.
“I meet with patient to identify problems, emotional, mental and behavioural in their
lives, provided to both adults and children,” she says.
Ramabele moved to Bloemfontein after completing matric to further her studies at the
University of the Free State (UFS) and studied Bachelor of Science for her
undergraduate degree. She completed her Master in Psychology also at UFS.
Ramabele says mental health has to be prioritized as a public health issue because it is
as important as physical health, it does lead to death through suicide.
“Mental health and physical health are closely associated as mental health plays a role in
people’s ability to sustain good physical health,” she says.

She admits that as passionate one can be in helping patients also comes with challenges
like in any other job.
“It is very stressful and challenging to help patients to overcome and deal with their
mental and emotional struggles. It is not the easiest of things to get patients to comly
with their treatment plan,” she says.
SADAG claims that less than 16% of mental health sufferers receive treatment for
mental illness.
“South Africa still has a long way to go in dealing Mental Health issues,” she concedes.

Sound Advice:
“It is important to realize that people that are suffering from mental illnesses are not
weak or crazy because most sufferers shy away from seeking help because of fear of
being labelled or being perceived as weak.
For suffers who cannot afford private mental health services, public mental health
services are available at the nearest public health hospitals”.

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