Hospital garden is a sanctuary from stress

Patients, staff and residents made flower crowns at the Hanover Park day hospital’s Garden Day party on Sunday.

Hanover Park day hospital held a Garden Day party on Sunday to promote mental health.

Patients, staff and residents made flower crowns on the day and had breakfast and lunch.

Garden Day was conceptualised by a group of enthusiastic gardeners who wanted to encourage people across South Africa to connect by celebrating their green spaces – no matter how big or small.

The garden at the hospital’s maternity unit was designed 12 years ago by Godfrey Abrahams as a peaceful place for patients and staff to relax and chat.

“It’s a pleasure to walk in the garden and patients enjoy it. They are at peace when they sit here. Like they are cut off from the world. I feel happy to be in the garden. To think that in Hanover Park there is a peaceful place,” he said.

The maternity unit’s mental health counsellor, Tyla Prinsloo, said the garden was a change from the inside waiting room.

“We like to encourage women to get sunlight. We know that there’s great benefit in outdoors and because there’s such limited access to such spaces in difficult communities, we‘re quite glad to be able to cultivate this space for women of the clinic and patients and staff of the facility. We try to let it be a communal space where we work together. What we cultivate here we hope that people will cultivate in their own spaces as as well.”

Clinical services coordinator for the perinatal mental health project at the maternity unit, Liesl Hermanus, said they had held the event to celebrate the job done by Mr Abrahams.

“He has made a good space for people to come. People who live in Hanover Park don’t have access to gardens so sometimes you’ll find that even after sessions, clients will still hang around in the space or sit on the bench. This is not accessible to everybody so we are happy that Godfrey has created this space,” she said.

The perinatal mental health project addressed depression and anxiety among pregnant and postnatal women in poor communities, said Ms Hermanus.

“We do this by supporting the integration of quality maternal health care into existing mother and child initiatives. We have managed to successfully achieve this at Hanover Park midwife obstetrics unit. A great part of our work also involves capacity building for health-care workers around maternal mental health and respectful maternity care,” she said.

Godfrey Abrahams planted a tree in the garden.
Enjoying the garden, from left, are mental health counsellor Tyla Prinsloo, clinical services coordinator for the perinatal mental health project at the Hanover Park maternity unit Liesl Hermanus, and operations coordinator Thanya April.
A quiet corner in the garden.