Byline: Kelebogile Masemola

27 May 2022

The Department of Sport, Arts & Culture launched the Silapha Wellness Programme which is an initiative that creates a support structure focused on mental health and mental well-ness related support for practitioners in the arts and culture.

The event held at Freedom Park, Pretoria had keynote speakers in the Sports, Arts and Culture industry who shared their experiences and advice on mental health.

Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa expressed his deep concern on Thursday, 26 May 2022, for the wellbeing of practitioners due to the escalating number of cases of suicide in the province.

“As I stand here before you, I am caught between two thoughts, that of deep concern for the wellbeing of practitioners due to the escalating number of cases of suicide in the province, and secondly the sheer determination and perseverance to confront this battle before us,” Mthethwa said.

With many sport and creative workers having no access to employee benefits, this has exacerbated the incidents of deteriorating mental wellness for most, including the likes of depression and in extreme suicidal cases.

“The struggles of Artists are often on trending lists on Twitter and Facebook; the tragedy being how Artists are subjected to public humiliation and scorn which is exacerbated by the global pandemic, that has stifle the creative economy.

“The fact is, most of them are faced with daily challenges and psychological difficulties.

“Practitioner’s struggles and pain are treated as entertainment to the public by social media and at times the mainstream media.

“The department was compelled by the circumstances and painful incidents that involved creative workers to address these concerns by developing and identifying programmatic interventions which can redress these sector challenges,” he said.

Therapist, Kwena Manamela said pressure due to life challenges, financial challenges, family issues and shame due to mistakes that have taken place in our lives are factors which affect our mental health/wellbeing.

“We believe that with these kind of platforms, it’s a beautiful space for us to look at challenges that we are experiencing on a daily basis.

“When we check our records, our statistics are amplifying that suicide is part of the challenges we are dealing with, we as Silapha have partnered up with various stateholders to take care of you.

“In a nutshell we are saying that we are here for you, let’s heal together,” said Manamela.

Award Winning Actress, Connie Chiume said people in the entertainment industry need to work together and support each other because there’s no other way to fight this huge problem than supporting one another.

“We are working in a very exploitative industry, not having a union which will fight for our rights makes everything worse.

“There is no way we can fight this problem either than working together but also we need to take responsibility as public figures of being aware of the things we post on social media, the kind of life we portray to the public because issues arise when we can’t keep up with the life that we have portrayed,” said Chiume.

The programme is described as a platform intending to provide access to resources within the value chain services of lifestyle management, mental health management, substance abuse management as well as legal management.

Emphasizing access of tool to practitioners’ lifestyle management and the successful business aspect of the craft is at the heart of the campaign.