Demolishing the stigma around mental illness

By: Anele Gcwabe

When faced with issues of mental health, we often overlook the value of a strong support system. We are quick to find rapid solutions and give advice without considering the root causes and triggers of certain disorders. How refreshing is it to come across individuals who understand that each person who has been diagnosed, is triggered by something unique to them. A Pome Mental Illness Advocacy seeks to identify the many social challenges that affect our daily lives, walk through them and then deal with them. Meet 21 year old Activator, Nosihle Mbalenhle Mthembu.

Mthembu is a mental health advocate of A Pome. She is also dealing with Bipolar Mood Disorder (BMD) yet she is actively involved in the company’s campaigns and programs. She attends sessions and draws inspiration and strength from a book by the founder of A Pome Mental Illness Advocacy titled Rescued By Depression.  “The book is an anchor in our company as it touches the lives of people suffering from depression and other mental illnesses”, says Mthembu. “As a mental health advocate, I seek to raise awareness about mental illnesses”, she continues.

Based in Pietermaritzburg, Kwa-Zulu Natal, A Pome was registered in November 2018 with the main purpose of helping people who are dealing with depressive disorders. They seek to find them professional help and lend them an ear so that they can talk about the many social challenges that they face- especially around mental disorders and the causes thereof, “but most importantly, it is to be a support system to people related”, explains Mthembu.

Their beneficiaries are people living with depressive disorders. So far, they have partnered with local partners such as Townhill Psychiatric Hospital and Gift of the Givers.  “We are hoping to demolish the stigma around mental illness”, she explains.

A Pome Mental Illness Advocacy conducted a teacher’s visit at Haythorne Secondary School in February 1st 2019 to discuss the book, Rescued By Depression. They did this in partnership with Gift of the Givers. “We induced a book tour to schools as a pledge of raising awareness about depression and it created a platform to share real life experiences that left a positive impact on the youth- under the campaign Depressed But Not Defeated. We were proudly sponsored by BMW Supertech Group, Motor City and Akeso Clinic”, explains Mthembu.

“Our one-on-one sessions started with people who related to our company slogan #DiscouragedNotDefeated.  We had an A Pome Outreach Programme on the 28th of February 2019 where we went to Emuseni Centre for the aged IkhayaLabadala to donate fruits and volunteer by cleaning”, she continues. A Pome takes interest in being of service to the community and they are looking forward to doing more community work. “The Maritzburg Echo Newspaper published our outreach on 7 March 2019”, beams Mthembu.

They pride themselves in their creativity which is exclusive and inclusive. “We partook in a Pink Splash Fun Walk under the theme: Breaking the stigma around mental illnesses. Women are our powerhouse and we treat ourselves to fun yet informative sisterhood gatherings”. Outreaches are at the centre of their heart and this is evident in the way that Mthembu speaks about their visit to Ekujabuleni Children’s home, on the 26th of May, to celebrate with those who had birthdays in May.

“Activators can support by spreading the word about our non-profit company and follow us on social media”, says Mthembu.

Their Instagram handle is A_Pome_Mental_Illness_Advocacy and Rescued_By_Depression.

They are still looking to expand to more social media platforms.

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