OT student, Ms Jenna Saxby assists a client online.

UKZN OT Students Online to Assist Those in Need

UKZN Occupational Therapist (OT) students on the Westville campus in co-operation with the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) are offering free personalised online individual comfort sessions for those who need help.

The telehealth clinic services include relaxation therapy, stress management, relapse prevention, coping strategies, lifestyle analysis, medication, compliance and occupation-based therapy.

Using a smartphone, tablet or laptop, the service – aimed to assist those having difficulty coping with big or small everyday tasks – is offered on Zoom or WhatsApp.

Occupational therapy assists people to work towards becoming better and more productive individuals.

Module co-ordinator for the OT Psychosocial Theory and Fieldwork module Ms Julie Lingah said: ‘Due to the pandemic, the Discipline was not able to access mental health facilities for the Level 4 OT students for their fieldwork practice placements so the alternative was the provision of telehealth services. To this end, SADAG was one of the organisations approached for the referral of potential clients for the telehealth clinic on campus.’

Lingah said for the next block students would offer educational webinars and mini virtual symposiums. These would be advertised in the SADAG newsletter.

SADAG, a non-profit organisation providing counselling services for those in need of mental healthcare, manages a 16-line counselling-and-referral call centre, and is the voice of patient advocacy, working in urban, peri-urban, and the most rural communities in South Africa. It has a network of more than 200 support groups throughout South Africa.

The OT students are working as part of a multi-disciplinary team with School Support services (SSS) offering individual sessions for students with social and academic difficulties as well as collaborative educational webinars within the College of Health Sciences.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied