Naledi Ngema

20 Nov 2023
20 Nov 2023

This content is currently protected. Please provide the password to reveal the contents of this page.

Please enter the UCT subsite access password to view the protected content.
Based on the increasing awareness of mental health within society and specifically Africa, I anticipate a growing domain of expertise.

What do you do?

I am currently an Honours in Psychology graduand, waiting for my degree to be conferred. In addition to that, I volunteer as a lay counsellor at a prominent NPO. As a lay counsellor, my central duty is to provide mental health services to clients through therapeutic consultation. This is a duty that is done under supervision, as I am still on the journey of doing my master’s.

The degree will give me the specialised skills needed to solely consult clients.

What pulled you towards your field?

My main attraction towards my field is based on it being my calling. The mere thought of assisting people with not only mental care, but also outlining the power and science of the mind, gives me immeasurable satisfaction. Additionally, this field aligns with my character and most importantly, my purpose.

What are some of the challenges you have faced in getting a job?

The greatest challenge has been the experience requirement of most job posts. Majority of jobs require more experience than my age can even gain. Thus, it is really hard for a graduate to get a job that can sustain one in the current economy and with the current cost of living, without experience.

What were the highlights and challenges of studying at UCT?

The most overwhelming experience of being in the UCT environment was definitely the diversity I experienced in the university space. It’s quite challenging to be in a space that consists of so many different representations of cultures, beliefs, standards and morals, whilst also trying to define yourself within the same spectrum. It is easy to get lost within the diversity, yet it is also exciting to find yourself within it

One of my greatest highlights was the realisation that I am actually admitted to the best university in Africa, and whilst that can introduce a lot of pressure, it can also be quite validating. Strolling around campus knowing that you are part of a community of great prominence felt amazing.

How have your degrees helped you in your career?

My degrees have become the ultimate stepping stone to the beginning of my career as an aspiring clinical psychologist. Through obtaining my degrees, I have acquired the necessary life skills and expertise to manoeuvre around my career field, as well as career networking.

What advice would you give to current students?

My initial advice is to figure out where you thrive the most. The only way you can come to understand this aspect of yourself is through exploring different environments that will challenge your character traits.

You can do this by trying out extroverted activities, such as tutoring, volunteering, and many other environments that will highlight your social skills and ultimately groom your social competence. You can also engage in introverted activities through doing things like journalling, self- care activities, or any other activities that will help you engage with yourself, and ultimately help you define what works best for you. Through this self-awareness, you will find it much easier to thrive in your academic life and later, career.

How do you see your industry evolving in the near future, specifically in Africa?

Based on the increasing awareness of mental health within society and specifically Africa, I anticipate a growing domain of expertise. It is known in our society that mental health has been a marginalised topic within societal discourse, which has also impacted the number of people that offer these services, due to the lack of substantial demand until recently. Thus, in the near future, I foresee an expansion of the supply, accessibility and demand of mental health services.