Holistically Healthy City
Cape Town Is Building A Holistically Healthy Infrastructure
One of the critical components for building a resilient city like Cape Town is the physical and
mental well-being of Capetonians. When it comes to Cape Town’s diverse culture, people,
households and communities, any kind of Resilience Strategy needs to prioritise
strengthening the very social fabric and cultural resilience of the metropolis. This will allow
the Mother City to continue to survive, adapt and thrive.
In fact, there are various spheres of government, most notably the Western Cape Provincial
Government (WCG), for which health is one of its formal constitutional mandates. These
initiatives work tirelessly to extend access to quality primary, secondary and tertiary
healthcare in Cape Town. However, today more than ever, the community projects in Cape
Town need to be supported by a strengthening of strategic processes and infrastructures.
Cape Town’s Resilience Strategy – A Holistically Healthy City
This is the first pillar in the City of Cape Town’s Resilience Strategy. It places a strong
emphasis on addressing trauma, as well as the need for improved mental health and family
support services. This is critical for a variety of reasons:
- Addressing the injustices of apartheid;
- The high exposure of Capetonians to crime and violence (incl. children);
- The pervasiveness of inequality and high unemployment.
While the inequitable allocation of resources continues to be addressed, there is now also a
shift to focusing on innovatively harnessing the power of people, networks and societal
resources in order to make our communities safer.
Increase Awareness, Access To (And Uptake Of) Mental Health Support
The City of Cape Town continues to combat and counter the stigma around mental health,
all Capetonians are challenged to confront this issue and to raise awareness and
acceptance. After all, efforts to bridge the treatment gap needs to be done in partnership
with communities. This will include improving referral mechanisms to professional health
practitioners and confronting mental illness, as well as increasing awareness. Goals in this
- Developing an anti-stigma, mental health public messaging campaign. This will need to address a lack of awareness around mental health challenges in Cape Town.
- Extending mental health training to include traditional healers and unlicensed herbalists. The city needs to increase mental health literacy amongst traditional healers and unlicensed herbalists to ultimately encourage greater access to greater treatment scope for patients.
- Expanding mental health training for primary health clinics and lay counsellors. This means increasing the number of community healthcare workers and lay counsellors who are trained and equipped to diagnose and provide support for mental disorders.
Break the Cycle of Violence & Decrease Recidivism Rates & Trauma
The City of Cape Town is embracing a more holistic approach to policing and crime
prevention too. By partnering across neighbourhoods, CBOs, and government departments
there is an opportunity to discourage youth from crime and to strengthen our resilience in
times of shock. Efforts are targeting the breaking of the cycle of violence. This starts by
preventing people from entering the criminal justice system in the first place. Goals in this
- Growing the number of “Neighbourhood Safety Teams” across Cape Town. This will
help to ensure safety in communities through a holistic approach to law enforcement
which includes social as well as enforcement interventions.
- Re-establishing the Ceasefire programme in Cape Town for the diversion of high-risk
youths from gangs through social interventions and community engagement.
- Creating a live database of referral networks to provide accessible, up-to-date
information of referral networks. This will include at-risk individuals, victims or crime
and Capetonians living with substance abuse or mental illness.
- Encouraging cross-societal support for diversionary programmes in Cape Town to
increase support across society for CBOs and NGOs delivering diversion
programmes. Cape Town continues to create alternate pathways that can increase
social cohesion and decrease violence and trauma.
- Increasing the number of “School Resource Officers” across the city to optimise the
ability of children to safely uptake learning opportunities.
- Increasing the number of “walking buses” across the city so that more children in
vulnerable communities are able to safely walk to and from school without being
affected by crime, gang activity, and sexual violence.
- Maximising the resilience dividend of “Facility Protection Officers” across the city to
decrease the vandalism of Cape Town government facilities and protect officials.
These officers ensure frontline service delivery to communities while providing co-
benefits in terms of crime prevention and assistance in times of shock.
Combat Discrimination & Build Social Cohesion
It’s important that the City of Cape Town works to combat discrimination and build social
cohesion. Various forms of prejudice and discrimination, including racism, sexism,
xenophobia and homophobia, weaken the fabric of society. This undermines efforts to build
social cohesion, a vital enabler for any societal response to stresses and shocks. Goals in
this regard include:
- Launching a public messaging campaign and public dialogue series to address
discrimination and increase awareness of discrimination.
- Launching a campaign to reduce violence against women and children through
education and early intervention to increase awareness of the legal rights and
protections, as well as social support, available to victims.
- Celebrating diversity and build cohesion and inclusion through art and community
storytelling to increase an appreciation for the different cultures and histories of the
diverse people of Cape Town.
- Developing programmes that foster welcoming neighbourhoods to increase a sense
of belonging and acceptance for foreign nationals who choose to make Cape Town
home, and a greater degree of social cohesion.
Promote A Culture of Health That Increases Well-Being & Decreases Trauma
Cape Town is committed to promoting a culture of health that increases well-being and
decreases trauma. This is because healthy Capetonians are best positioned to confront
acute shocks and chronic stresses. There have been great strides since 1994 in providing
access to quality healthcare. Further goals in this regard include:
- Establishing a food systems programme to improve access to affordable and
nutritious food. This will strengthen the Cape Town food system by focusing on
improving access to affordable and nutritious food for Capetonians living in
- Scaling up the “Live Well Challenge” through promotion and partnerships so that
more Capetonians participate in regular exercise and healthy eating.
- Utilising a screening tool to identify youth at risk to improve identification of
individuals who have been subject to adverse childhood experiences. Identifying the
most appropriate interventions that can be made to improve well-being and decrease
trauma is critical to a resilient city.
- Increasing the number and distribution of Matrix clinics in Cape Town to improve the
opportunities for Capetonians to access programmes that support treatment and
recovery from substance abuse.
For more information on the holistically healthy city pillar of the Cape Town Resilience
Strategy, contact us today!