Registered counsellors' perceptions of their role in the South African context of providing mental health-care services

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 3
  • Abstract:

    Mental health-care statistics in South Africa indicate that large numbers of individuals do not have access to mental health-care practitioners and that mental health difficulties appear to be exacerbated by significant social problems. The need to combat this ever-increasing void was acknowledged by the South African government and the category of registered counsellor was created to afford a form of mental health care to disadvantaged communities. To date, it appears that registered counsellors have been somewhat unsuccessful in their attempts to fulfil their intended role. Hence, in 2011, a newly formulated scope of practice was introduced which engaged registered counsellors in the areas that would most efficiently address the mental health-care gap. The purpose of this research study was to explore the perceptions of registered counsellors regarding their role of providing mental health-care services in the South African context. A qualitative interpretive descriptive approach with a sample of 12 individuals, who are registered as registered counsellors with the Health Professions Council of South Africa, was used. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews guided by an interview schedule. Thematic analysis was used to identify the themes. The study found that the registered counsellors perceived their role as important in the context of mental health-care development in South Africa, but despite this, they also experienced negative perceptions regarding the changing scope of their role in South Africa. This manifested in uncertainty among the registered counsellors. Negative perceptions were also reported in terms of a lack of acknowledgement from other mental healthcare practitioners and ignorance from the public regarding the work of registered counsellors