I first heard about the Counselling Hub on Facebook when one of my friends shared this article from the Southern Suburbs Tatler about this great new initiative that provides counselling to low-income and unemployed people for just R50 a session.
I was intrigued as I had never heard of (good) counselling actually being that cheap.
I had seen various therapists over the years and they were all super expensive. Basically, if you didn’t have medical aid, you weren’t seeing a reliable therapist or getting your meds.
I’ve been unemployed for nearly six months now and out of therapy for eight. I’m mentally ill and also have various traumas in my past that I need to work through. So I really needed therapy and to stop using my friends as my personal emotional dumping ground.
So I emailed the Counselling Hub and they got back to me quickly and advised me to rather call in as their inbox was inundated with requests. I then had a conversation with Shifra Jacobson who was polite and lovely to talk to and assured me that I would get a call back even though I was being put on a waiting list.
I was told I would wait a maximum two weeks, but eight days later, Shifra gave me a call herself to say I could come into therapy the next day. I was trying to be optimistic and happy about the fact that I could finally get therapy again, but I was also pessimistic about the level of care I would receive at a place where the therapy was so inexpensive as I had had free trauma counselling from a certain organisation before and it was terrible and left me feeling worse than before.
But I got to the Counselling Hub on the Wednesday I was due for my appointment and while it was easy to find, I was a few minutes late.
They were kind and understanding and immediately I felt relaxed and at ease and as if I had come to the right place. I filled in a form with my particulars, illnesses, next of kin, etc and then the session began.
Thola was lovely and she helped me feel assured and comfortable to just talk and say things. I’m sure it was a frenzied mess of things coming out of my mouth, but she was kind and patient and informed me upfront that each session would be R50 and that they ask you to commit to four sessions at least and then you can talk with your counsellor after that as to what you need next.
I was pleasantly surprised at how great the entire process was and how professional the service was. I also spoke to Shifra about The Counselling Hub for a bit more information: “The Counselling Hub is a volunteer based organisation, including student interns and professionals. It is partnered with SACAP, South African College of Applied Psychology, a private college that connects us with student volunteers who complete the practical part of their studies with our organization,” says Shifra.
She is also insistent that although the Hub is led by women, they are passionate about “building an organisation that is progressive and welcoming of all genders,” as it was started as a way to address the mental health equity gap that exists in South Africa.
I will definitely be going back for more sessions and I really hope the Counselling Hub can help a lot of people who are so desperately in need of mental health care.
This is their contact information if you would like to enquire about booking an appointment:
Email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 021 462 3902 or visit http://counsellinghub.org.za/for more information. But if you’re not in Cape Town, or prefer not to visit the Counselling Hub, there are other options for you.
Cape Mental Health Society: (021) 447 9040
Life Line: (021) 461 1111
Famsa Observatory Office: (021) 4470170
Groote Schuur Hospital: (021) 404 2151/3
Trauma Centre: (021) 465 7373
Lifeline Crisis: 011 728 1347 WhatsApp call counselling line: 065 989 9238
FAMSA Joburg: 061 495 3766/011 855 2359
Focus on the Family Africa: 031 716 3300
TEARS sexual abuse counselling: Helpline: *134*7355# Landline: 010 590 5920
Grace Christian Counselling: 031 003 1830/ 063 528 5129
Revive Counselling: 041 373 8882/3
All over South Africa
SADAG Toll Free Line: 0800 567 567
Also, if you are privileged enough to have access to a private therapist and want to help those who have no choice but to use these centres, please consider making a donation to one or some of them if you can. They do amazing work and are supported by generous donations.