Tackling the issue on mental health and how it impacted families was the aim of Avela Mjajubana’s Master of Health Sciences degree. The Nursing student graduated this afternoon during the Faculty of Health Sciences graduation ceremony at the Fred Crookes Sports Centre, Steve Biko Campus.
“I have always enjoyed understanding Mental Health issues, zooming into someone’s social standing in the society helps you to understand one’s behaviour. Most of the African Revolutionary writers also did psychology; this also served as an inspiration to me,” he said proudly.
Besides finding time to complete his Masters dissertation, Mjajubana is also the current National President of SASCO, a position he holds dear to his heart. SASCO is the biggest student organisation in Africa, it governs about 14 universities of 26 South African universities, it also governs about 45 of 50 TVET Colleges in the country comprising of about 250 TVET campuses. “I am enthusiastic about youth development in this country. it is my ideal that young people must access quality education in order to unlock the economic opportunities,” he added.
Talking more on his research, Mjajubana said the aim of his study was to explore family members’ experiences of caring for their mentally ill relatives and to identify their coping strategies.
“Individuals diagnosed with mental illness differ due to treatment approaches and the difference in diagnoses and symptoms. Mental illness does not only affect relationships, occupation, recreation and finances, but also the overall routine of the individual’s daily life and the lives of their family members,” he said.
Mjajubana said the shortage of skilled and experienced health workers, lack of facilities, limited psychiatric care and inaccessible mental health care services are causes of concern. “The uMsunduzi Municipality in Northern KwaZulu-Natal is one such outlying area, with limited access to health services and resources, where family members have to take care of the mentally ill. These underlying problems have warranted the need to explore the experiences of family members living with mentally ill relatives,” he stressed.
His study concluded that the rural area in the uMsunduzi Municipality, needs resources to assist family members who care for their mentally ill relatives. It further revealed that the family members were inexperienced, lacking the skills, knowledge and capacity to care, treat and rehabilitate their loved ones. “Compounded by inadequate mental health facilities and infrastructure, the implications of the non-implementation of the acts, policies, processes and procedure in the mental health discourse are evidently cause for concern in the uMsunduzi Municipality,” he added.
For him, he had to ensure 100 per cent commitment, waking up early every morning and doing his research work, also attending to his SASCO meetings during the day; sometimes using his office hours to do his research work. Mjajubana thanked all those who were there for him during his academic journey, extending special words of gratitude to his supervisors. “I would not have done it if they were not patient with me whilst remaining ethical and professional,” he said.
He also urges students to be committed to their studies. “Time management and discipline is sacrosanct. Students need to focus, commit to your work, be disciplined and always ensure that your social programmes do not compromise your study time. It’s a difficult journey but worthy to be taken,” he said.
Pictured: Avela Mjajubana