Self-advocacy for quality of life
Our Service User Empowerment Programme has been implemented since 1999. Adults with mental disabilities are encouraged to participate in self-advocacy training programmes which include leadership training, confidence building, anger management, understanding the rights of people with disabilities, destigmatisation of psychiatric illness, and social integration.
A committee consisting of elected service user representatives from our Challenge Protective Training Workshops and our Residential Care facilities was formed to manage this Programme. Two service users from this committee have been elected to serve on the Governing Board of Durban and Coastal Mental Health. One of these representatives has been elected as a Provincial Representative to serve on the Board of the SA Federation for Mental Health.
The objectives of our self-advocacy Service User Empowerment Programme include:
- to improve the quality of life (living, working, socialising, learning) of mental health care users
- to educate mental health care users about their rights and responsibilities
- to educate the public and service providers (including mental health care practitioners) about the rights of mental health care users
In line with our Executive Director’s Strategic Mapping for the organization for the next 5 years (2014 – 2019) a Strategy Planning Workshop with the Service users of Consumer Advocacy Group was facilitated on the 27 November 2013. Durban and Coastal Mental Health supports advocacy as an important means of improving the quality of life of service users by ensuring their human rights are upheld and by challenging restrictive and discriminatory practices. As a result, the voices of our consumers are being heard. It was therefore unanimously agreed that a name change should be in keeping with our vision and mission of Durban & Coastal Mental Health.
The workshop focused on the implementation of the following strategies:
- The Consumer Advocacy Group would now be referred to as DURBAN & COASTAL MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCACY MOVEMENT – DACMHAM.
- Changes were made to the Terms of Reference Document and a New Terms of Reference document was developed.
- A brainstorming session on building a solid foundation for Advocacy was facilitated.
- Capacity-building and information dissemination is crucial for the empowerment of our Consumers of our service.