The City of Cape Town’s ongoing Someone in Cape Town substance abuse campaign on social media is resulting in a spike in the number of people reaching out for help.
In March, the City’s Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille, launched the next phase of the “I have a drug problem” campaign. A few weeks later, in April, the City started its Someone in Cape Town campaign hosted exclusively on Facebook and aimed specifically at young people.
Someone in Cape Town uses the social media platform to tell the story of a recovering drug addict who has successfully completed the City’s 16-week alcohol and drug treatment programme, based on the United States Matrix model of treatment and operating from within City Health clinics. Currently, six such treatment sites are operating in Tafelsig; Town 2, Khayelitsha; Delft South; Milnerton; Parkwood and Manenberg.
“We wanted to present a raw and honest view of the day-to-day struggles of a recovering drug addict, but also to demystify perceptions around rehabilitation by telling an individual’s story,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Health, Councillor Siyabulela Mamkeli. “Social media was an obvious choice for the campaign because it enables us to not only reach the youth, but also to relay the story in a way that they can relate to and then be able to share directly via Facebook, YouTube and Tumblr.”
In the seven weeks since the launch of the campaign, the Someone in Cape Town page had attracted 10 151 likes (it currently has about 11000), the various videos posted as part of the narrative were viewed 157 320 times on Facebook and YouTube, and 50 individuals reached out for assistance via the platform’s messaging function. Statistics from the City’s substance abuse helpline also reflect the increase in calls for assistance. In the 10 weeks prior to the Mayor’s launch in March, the helpline was fielding on average 17 calls a week from people seeking assistance for rehabilitation services and other substance abuse advice. In the 10 weeks since the City launched the Mayor’s campaign and Someone in Cape Town, calls to the helpline have increased to, on average, 68 per week.
The aim of the two-and-a-half month long campaign which draws to a close on June 12 2015 is to increase the number of young people that reach out for help from the City.
“Extensive research was carried out with recovered addicts and people running recovery programmes in Cape Town to identify common trends and insights that we could tap into,’ said Councillor Mamkeli. “We are encouraged by the response to the campaign, but we also realise that there is a long road ahead. The idea of admitting to substance abuse and seeking help remains taboo in many homes and communities and we are trying to break through that mind-set by reaching out to younger people who tend to be more receptive to new or different ideas,.”
For anyone who would like to seek assistance for a substance abuse problem that they are affected by, the toll-free help-line number is 0800 435 748. Those who want to dig deeper into the story of the campaign’s central character can visit the Facebook, Tumblr and YouTube pages, which have been pre-populated with the events that led up to the start of the recovery programme.