The School of Clinical Medicine in partnership with the Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) has launched an art and poetry forum at the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine as part of its mental health support programme for students.
The inaugural session was presented as a Poetry Africa experience with the theme: Healing and Feeling the Rhythm and the Pulse. Students took part in a poetry and fine art competition as well as an open mic poetry session.
Dean and Head of the School of Clinical Medicine, Professor Ncoza Dlova launched this initiative to create a nurturing and conducive environment for students.
‘Medical school is so serious. Students deal with their lectures and patients in hospitals and have no platform to relax. Many of our students come from disadvantaged backgrounds and need an outlet to express the challenges they confront. Medicine is a long, demanding degree and one can feel very lonely; hence, the need to mitigate against depression, anxiety and stress,’ she said.
Centre for Creative Arts Senior Administrator and Curator for the Poetry Africa Festival, Ms Siphindile Hlongwa said: ‘Studying Medicine requires strict discipline and focus but students on this campus are very talented in music, poetry and artwork. This programme aims to integrate art and the medical field to heal the soul and create a safe space to be themselves. The CCA has published Anthology 2022 which includes younger voices in the poetry space and we hope that medical students can create their own.’
Students were enthusiastic about the programme. SRC chairperson Mr Mmiselo Gibixhego said it was the beginning of great things to come as there are few opportunities for students to express their interest in art. Chairperson of The Voice Art Club, Mr Nzuzo Dlamini commented that; ‘Medicine can be emotionally and mentally draining and we need a minute to move away; this collaboration is giving us that.’
The programme is an ongoing one that will be held on the first Friday of each month. Winners of the inaugural event received cash prizes and skincare products, while members of the audience also stood a chance to win cash prizes, t-shirts and academic books.
Dlova expressed her gratitude to ABSA, which sponsored this initiative as well as the CCA for making it a reality. ‘I am passionate about transformation and diversity and I like to make people feel good,’ she said.
Words: Zama Khoza
Photographs: Dime Creative Studio