Health & Beauty

Meet the dynamic team at Akeso Psychiatric Hospital

Meet the dynamic team at Akeso Psychiatric Hospital

Akeso Psychiatric Hospital in Pietermaritzburg is a safe and caring environment where healing can take place under the guidance of a driven and dedicated team of professionals

Nerasha Singh
BComm Honours, LRA, MBA
Nerasha is the Hospital Manager of Akeso Psychiatric Hospital and former Newcastle resident. Nerasha has 14 years of health experience. She enjoys the psychiatric world and has a passion for quality patient care. “Akeso Clinic is very different compared to other psychiatric hospitals,” she says. They offer an in-house group therapy programme for the patients, luxury gardens with “home set-up” patient rooms. Their aim at Akeso is to make the patient’s stay a homely stay.
She has an excellent therapeutic team of psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, nurses and admin staff who go out of their way to ensure that the patient leaves better and equipped with the relevant skills to deal with challenges they may face in the real world.
Akeso provides care to all patients in need of any type of mental assistance, ie depression, stress, workload fatigue, any type of trauma, substance rehabilitation and many more.
Nerasha concludes, “It is so rewarding to see healing, not just for the patients but healing for their family and loved ones as well.”



Dr Bongokuhle Mbatha
Dr Mbatha has a special interest in the field of psychiatry, as the patient is looked at in a holistic way – not just in a physical sense, but also psychologically. She has a passion for people and it gives her great pleasure to assist and guide them back to health. The work that is done at Akeso allows them to make a difference by offering the team of professionals who work with the patients an environment that is conducive to healing: a safe space where patients can feel comfortable to open up and talk about their feelings and where they can be heard by people with the knowledge and experience to help them move forward. “Patients can also feel that they are part of the decision-making process in how they will be treated.” Dr Mbatha joined Akeso because she wanted to enter the private sector and was so impressed by the fact that patients are managed holistically. At Akeso, she sees a wide range of patients: from depression to bipolar disorder, stress, anxiety, psychosis and personality disorders. “My work is full of surprises and I learn every day; this is certainly not a dull field.”



Dr Pravesh Kassen
Psychiatry was a good field for Dr Kassen, since he explains himself to be empathetic in nature. “I grew up in a very loving environment. As a medical student, I looked around at what was going on in the world and I realised that people do indeed need extra care.” He worked as a psychiatrist in Johannesburg, but as his family grew, he wanted to give his children a sense of belonging. “Family values, for me, are the building blocks of a strong character.” In 2009, Dr Kassen saw a need in KZN for a doctor with his qualifications and skills. He has been involved with Akeso since day one. “We focus on empowering patients with the tools they need to heal. As a doctor, it is important for me to form a connection with patients so they can feel comfortable enough to open up to me so that healing can start.” He treats all kinds of patients: from depression to dual psychiatric diagnosis, substance abuse to the elderly. He sees himself as a generalist in nature; he will be there for anyone in need of help. He has a special interest in stress, burnout and substance abuse.



Dr Graham Lindegger
Dr Lindegger is a clinical psychologist specialising in psychotherapy. He spent many years working as Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Natal, where he trained as a clinical psychologist while also having a practice. He now works from Akeso. “I work with a wonderful team of psychologists, psychiatrists, occupational therapists and nurses.” He has always been interested in and committed to working with people to help enhance their wellbeing and quality of life. Therefore he is especially interested in the experiences that erode “quality of life”. First, emotional wellbeing is a vital part of overall quality of life, so he has a special interest in working with people with stress, anxiety and depression, all detractors from quality of life. Second, he spends a lot of time working with couples. Good relationships are an essential part of wellbeing.



Dr Bongiwe Lugongolo
MBCHB (Natal) DMH (SA) FCPsych (SA): Dr Lugongolo has a special interest in HIV psychiatry and also deals with legal issues in medicine, such as personal injury and Road Accident Fund cases.
She basically deals with civil medical legal cases. She chose to specialise in this field just to break away from everyday psychiatry. “I was called to court to testify on a patient’s medical information years ago and instead of finding it intimidating, I realised that there is another side to medicine.” She did her medical training in KZN. “I am originally from the Eastern Cape, but I decided to settle here.” She worked at Akeso part-time and loved it so much that she decided to stay. She sees all types of patients and has a special interest in addiction, stress, trauma, post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder and mood disorders.



Dr Allwood
MBCHB (Cape), FCPsych (SA) MMed (Psych) (Rand), MD (Psych) (Pret), FRCPsych (UK): Dr Allwood is a general psychiatrist sub-specialising in child and adolescent psychiatry. “There is so much that can be done in this area. Our work here at Akeso is to identify the problem and to perhaps give help and hope; a way to move forward and instil a renewed sense of purpose.” He doesn’t exclusively work with children and adolescents; he works with a whole gamut of mental disorders. He also enjoys working with the frail and retired. “It is rewarding to see how patients flourish once they find their feet again and to know you were able to help them on the road to recovery.” He explains psychiatry as the bridge between the psychological, the physical and the spiritual – all these areas have to be nurtured in order for healing to take place.



Group Therapy:
A unique feature of Akeso is their group therapy sessions run by five professionals: clinical psychologist Nosihle Mntungwa, occupational therapist Amanda Kuhn, occupational therapist Cheryl Charles, occupational therapist Andrea Radnitz and occupational therapist Ayanda Sibisi. With group therapy, the patient is introduced to a vicarious learning environment. Patients are provided a space to talk and share their experiences. The sessions are voluntary and patients do not have to share if they don’t want to. Learning from others is the goal; learning from their experiences and the way they coped with situations. Patients advise each other on general issues while trained professionals observe without imposing. The group therapy sessions encourage social and coping skills. They also do skills training where the patient is reminded of skills they might have lost along the way. These skills might include how to deal with difficult people in an assertive, healthy way. Each week has a different theme; this week might be relationship stress, emotions and how to handle these emotions. It is also balanced out with some crafts for relaxation. Patients are taught to be non-judgemental of themselves and to focus in the moment, teaching them to have a balanced lifestyle. There is also an addiction unit for those with substance abuse issues where patients are taught alternative coping strategies.


Northern KZN & Midlands Get It November 2018

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