Football legend Bernard Parker champions anti-drug campaign

Clinix Health Group campaign ambassador Bernard Parker with the community members of Mamelodi. Supplied

Clinix Health Group campaign ambassador Bernard Parker with the community members of Mamelodi. Supplied

Published Jul 10, 2024


Former Kaizer Chiefs, TS Galaxy and Bafana Bafana striker Bernard Parker was at Mams Mall in Mamelodi last week where he engaged with community members about the growing number of young people who use drugs and are involved in criminal activities.

Parker, one of the ambassadors of the Clinix Health Group, said when the company asked him to be part of this initiative, he signed up immediately as he saw it as the perfect opportunity to inspire young people.

“No matter their background and circumstances, this initiative will help them to invest in themselves mentally or emotionally. I am grateful to be part of this initiative as it aligns with my values and principles,” he said.

Parker said this initiative speaks directly to his very own upbringing; his mother invested in his future by taking him to the School of Excellence.

“I can attest that to this day, the values and principles that were instilled in me at the school of excellence are still beneficial in my adulthood.

“I truly appreciate this campaign for driving the message that seeks to showcase how youth involvement in sport has positive associations as opposed to substance use and addiction.

“With so many social pressures and personal responsibilities that come with one’s success as a footballer, with access to a lot of money as well as sudden fame, it can be so easy for one to lose focus and get derailed. This can also have adverse effects on your mental health,” said Parker.

Most footballers often find themselves attracting a lot of responsibilities back at home and end up becoming the main breadwinners, he said.

“This can take a toll on one’s financial and mental health, which sometimes leads to substance use as a coping mechanism.

“We also encounter a lot of cyberbullying from football fans which affects us negatively, especially on the field of play.

“You can have the most solid and positive mindset, but in the end, you are still human, and you will get affected by the insults and negative commentary,” he added.

Chief Corporate Services Officer for Clinix, Matshepo Majola, said the aim was to amplify its awareness campaign on substance use disorders and addiction by holding various community outreach activations across Gauteng.

“One of the key objectives of the campaign is to combat the stigma against people who use drugs by promoting and using language that is non-judgemental and does not label them in a shameful way,” she said.

This three-month campaign will be held until the end of August with continuous community engagements led by Clinix’s ambassadors, Parker, Banyana Banyana legend Portia Modise and long jump Olympic silver medallist Luvo Manyonga.

According to reports by doctors, clinical associates and social workers from the University of Pretoria, over the past few years there has been a steady increase in harmful drug use in the City of Tshwane.

These reports further state that there is a major shortage of services in the City to help people who use drugs and struggle with addiction.

Majola said that in 2021 the Clinix Health Group opened the Cullinan Wellness Hospital, a voluntary psychiatric facility that offers various psychosocial and health services, including counselling, social work, psychology and occupational therapy.

“Though the wellness hospital is based in Cullinan, east of Pretoria, it also accommodates patients from as far as Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the North West,” she added.

Majola said the Clinix Health Group is very mindful of the harm caused by commonly used words and phrases towards people struggling with substance use disorders and addiction.

“Addiction is a condition that alters one’s mind; therefore, it is imperative that we use language that frames it as exactly what it is – ‘a health matter’.

“We also need to use language and words that are empathetic and show respect to people with addiction and their families who are equally impacted,” she said.

She encouraged those who need assistance to contact or visit their hospitals.

“Our professional medical teams are ready to assist in any way they can. Everyone can visit our social media pages for regular updates with information that will educate and help us unlearn some of the harmful phrases and words we commonly use,” added Majola.

Pretoria News