23 Feb HELPING MEN WITH MENTAL HEALTH
I am Jimmy Serathi, I live in a town in the Vaal region, Sasolburg, that’s where I was born and raised. I matriculated in 2012. I took a gap year then further my studies at Flavius Mareka TVET College in Mechanical Engineering. After a short stint with the Department of Health in 2018, working in a TB program I realized my love for working in an environment that is people-based and thus applied for an internship opportunity with Youth Health Africa. And that’s how my involvement in the program began.
The biggest highlight for me was being able to offer services to people in need of medical attention. Being there also encouraged other young people to be more open to the idea of taking the necessary steps to look after their health because they knew that they would be working hand in hand with fellow youth and someone who would understand them better. The biggest challenge for me was working with older men (e.g. 40+ years) as they sometimes had a problem with being attended to by someone as young as me, let alone having to open up about their medical history to me. As time went on I gained more confidence and was a bit more understanding as to why they didn’t want to be assisted by me but someone older, appreciating their standpoint on why they didn’t and being more open to helping them understand that it was beneficial to them and also a learning curve for me. I overcame the challenge by being open and honest as opposed to treating them as patients who had no choice but to consult with me as a counselor because they needed the assistance and also forming a relationship based on trust. I’ve learned a lot about what is needed to thrive in a work environment that is based on personal care and interaction with people. I’ve learned the necessary, skills on how to approach a person and create a warm and open setting for us to engage in but also set a standard of respect and maintain professionalism.
I worked in an environment that allowed me to engage with men and young boys, help in the form of HIV/AIDS awareness, counseling, and testing. Meeting with fathers and learning about their difficulties with their mental health, well being, and also in turn, learning; which is something I believe I wouldn’t have achieved without this internship opportunity. At this point, calling it a success seems like an understatement. It was more than a success, it was a blessing and a major learning curve and growth point. Yes, being part of this internship program was a success.