The effectiveness of group therapy in the prevention of mental illness in youths exposed to stress

Sekhukhune, Dora Dorothy
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The present social and political conditions in the black West Rand townships have led to young people being vulnerable to mental illness. The said conditions include violence, unstable family life, grief, losing family members by violence, and unemployment. A combination of these issues predisposes the youth to developing unhealthy ways of coping with stress. This is seen when conditions such as post traumatic stress and other physical and psychological symptoms are present, which could lead to me ital illness. Such issues have made it clear that a support system is needed to assist the youth in coping with the demands of their reality. The aim of the study was to establish whether group therapy was more effective than life skills training in the promotion of mental health and the prevention of mental illness. This was a small preliminary comparative study in genr-ating meaning to the youth regarding the ways in which they handle stressful situations ?r,d to, alert them to the effect these have on them. A black township on the West Rand was targeted for this s» .;dy. A sample was randomly selected from youths residing in Kagiso township. Two groups of equal numbers were formed, i.e. the therapy group and l‘fe skill training group. The following research tools were used to evaluate the efficacy of two interventions administered to the groups: • Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale • Descriptive Evaluation The results showed that, although there was a marginal difference, Group Therapy was more effective in that feelings and behavioural aspects were addressed, whereas in Life Skills Training it was not. Further research is needed in other townships, so that such a programme can be utilised as a preventive mental health measure.