It’s time we dealt with trauma as a community

We recently held our first ever Trauma Workshop, where the mental health fraternity gathered to discuss ways to support those affected by trauma in the Khayelitsha community, in Cape Town.

Delegates as far afield as the United States participated in our first Trauma Workshop.

Delegates as far afield as the United States participated in our first Trauma Workshop.Many living in the area are not aware that they may suffer from post-traumatic stress. Trauma is often caused by violence, protest action, crime, intimidation, and partly because of our violent history.

At the workshop, roleplayers from non-governmental organisations working in the area, the Western Cape Department of Health, and other experts, including Dr Desmond Kaplan from the United States, brainstormed ways to provide a better service to the community.

We examined the need to form a network in the area, develop a referral system for clients, and to equip community-based workers – the first point of contact with the community – with the training needed to detect trauma. In addition to this, workshop participants also recognised that those working with trauma (staff as well as carers) could be traumatised themselves and in need of counselling.

Christelle Cornelius, Programme Head of Health and Seniors at Ikamva Labantu, said that many people were not aware that they could be experiencing post-traumatic stress. “We have recognised the need for carers to be cared for. If that does not happen, how will they provide the best care for the children they are taking care of?”

Going forward, a steering committee will look at the impact substance abuse has on the mental health of communities. It will also look into the needs of the intellectually disabled.