As we commemorate World Mental Health Day today, the Western Cape Government understands that the COVID-19 pandemic had and continues to have an impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of our citizens, as well as officials across the province.
It is for this reason, that the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) has taken the lead to coordinate programmes offering long term healing and counselling support to the citizenry, both formal and informal.
The DCAS action plan to respond to the available evidence is already well on its way and includes: consulting relevant government partners, civil society and business, through implementation strategies that include nudges and tweaks to build on successes we have had, projects and events and interventions, which focus on collective approaches and not only individual selfcare.
In keeping hope alive, while creating a social movement for wellbeing to safely move forward together, we have focused our energies on staff morale, advocacy campaigns, creating new narratives and meaning and training our teams delivering our services, programmes and assistance on the ground to the citizens in our care.
The DCAS has the social infrastructure in place through our service delivery footprint and valued partners. The time is now to leverage on existing programmes and campaigns by icons, leaders and influencers, inclusive of our local artists, sporting personalities and all those who call the Western Cape home. Creating new narratives and meaning through a Whole of Society and Whole of Government Approach is key to addressing the lasting social dangers of mass trauma as evidence shows consist in forgetting. When it goes unprocessed, undiscussed, perhaps actively repressed, a group’s social tissues remain disturbed and unhealed. Individual trauma builds up unrecognised and festers under the cracks. We are tackling this head on by stimulating public dialogue and creating positive narratives through:
New works of art – Theatre, music, dance, visual arts
Our network of Faith Based Organisations and NGO’s
And activations that keep hope alive
As we actively contribute to the Western Cape Government Recovery Plan, it is hoped that our valued partners and stakeholders will join in our wellbeing priority so together we can build social inclusivity and service. In this way, we then create an enabling environment for a culture of citizenship, service and community, with a focus on youth, safety and jobs. All of which is much needed in the national climate we now find ourselves.
One such partnership is that with the Cape Town Cycle Tour, esteemed as the world’s largest timed cycle race, which we are relieved can go ahead today after much delay and national uncertainty over the last few months.
Minister Marais said, “It is no coincidence that the Cape Town Cycle Tour returns on World Mental Health Day as sport, recreation and events of this nature does have a significant impact of on mental wellbeing. Studies suggest that sport achieves a number of impacts simultaneously, making it a highly cost-effective intervention. Many of the links between sport and different social impacts are common, including greater physical competence, cognitive skills, social skills, trust and reciprocity, and identification with social values. These help to counteract risk factors and stimulate favourable reaction to protective factors.
Wellbeing is the manifestation of the catalytic role that sport and cultural affairs plays in stimulating social impacts. Without a sense of wellbeing from participation, people would not sign up, play as frequently as they do and the Olympic and Paralympic Games null and void. There is evidence of a positive relationship between sport participation and subjective wellbeing. While wellbeing is connected to health, particularly mental health, it also links to anti-social behaviour, education and social capital.
Noting its social capacity benefits, we thank the Cape Town Cycle Tour for the many ways they assist in increasing this capacity in the Western Cape as they give back to the under resourced in leaps and bounds. If not in monetary funds, then through networking support making the dreams of our children and younger generations a reality. For this, they should be commended, particularly the resilience and selfless efforts of Dave Bellairs and his remarkable team who managed to present another world class event in a fraction of the time this year. Thank you is indeed an understatement”.
The Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde, said: “We know that the pandemic has taken so much from all of us. Not only have we lost treasured family members, friends and colleagues, but many have also lost their jobs and sources of income. Major events, such as the Cape Town Cycle Tour, are absolutely critical in the rebuilding and reopening of our economy following the aftermath of the pandemic. Not only does it give us something to look forward to, but it also creates work opportunities. While this is one of the first cycle tours that I will not be participating in in a long time, I do have the great privilege this year of addressing my fellow cyclists and wishing you well as you make the journey. I wish you all the best of luck. Be safe and have a truly amazing ride.”
We must do all we can to empower those we serve to make healthier choices through becoming more inspired and involved. This indeed contributes to personal development and perceptions of wellbeing which, in turn, builds inherent capacity and motivation for change.
Source: Government of South Africa