Adolescents living with HIV are at an increased risk of mental illness. Over 15% of young women and 5% of young men aged 15-24 are living with HIV in South Africa, but do not receive adequate psychosocial support. Our Khuluma approach addresses this issue through digital support groups, which have proven to have a positive impact on their lives.
We have developed a mentor programme for our participants who were involved in the Khuluma initiative, to train them to provide the same support to other adolescents living with the same condition as them. We provide our peer mentors with basic training on HIV, facilitation and counselling skills and a training tool to enable them to run future support groups for adolescents. The mentor programme aims to give the mentors an opportunity to gain insights and access to careers and job opportunities. When a mentor shows interest in a field, we ensure that we help the mentor to enrich their skills and further their education in that field through courses. The mentors also meet once a month to take part in activity sessions, during which they share the challenges they have faced and receive support from their fellow peer mentors, as well as trained professionals.
Not only does the mentor programme give our mentors a sense of belonging but it also provides them with an open space to confidently communicate the issues they have faced, and continue to face, with other adolescents who are living with HIV and share similar experiences. Our mentors are able to facilitate support groups that they were once a part of and act as HIV advocates.
Our mentors have played a vital role in the recruitment process of participants for our other support group initiatives and have been very successful in helping to generate discussions in the groups.
Our peer mentors have been involved in many of the Foundation’s collaborative initiatives, including:
Main photo by Daniel Masetla