MPhil study projects

Counsellors’ perceptions on the effectiveness of online platforms to address mental health and wellness, including issues linked to HIV/Aids

Student: Mokgadi Mojela

Country: South Africa

This study examined counsellors’ perceptions regarding the efficacy of online platforms in addressing mental health and wellness, particularly concerning issues associated with HIV/Aids. Mental health issues have garnered increased attention in recent years, with many individuals affected by stress-related illnesses stemming from the impact of HIV/Aids.

The qualitative study purposively sampled participants from two online counselling organisations, Lifeline South Africa and The New loveLife Trust. Interviews were conducted with six counsellors and a counsellor manager who provided online counselling services to the public.

The primary findings revealed a preference for face-to-face counselling, despite most clients favouring social media platforms for counselling over in-person sessions. While acknowledging the potential effectiveness of social media, participants reported encountering challenges in interpreting nonverbal cues online. They emphasised the need for specialised skills in mental health, suggesting that social media alone cannot fully address mental wellness concerns.

Recommendations included developing backup strategies to ensure continuity of online counselling during electricity blackouts, addressing limitations in reading online nonverbal cues and providing training to online counsellors in diverse mental health strategies.