PRESS RELEASE: CALL FOR GOVERNMENT TO PRIORITISE MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
31 July 2017 - July Psychosocial Disability Awareness Month
As Psychosocial Disability Awareness Month draws to an end, the SA Federation for Mental Health wants to reiterate our call for the upscaling and integration of community mental healthcare services across South Africa. Throughout the month of July SAFMH, as well as our Mental Health Societies across the country, advocated for existing community mental health services to be upscaled and to receive increased support, as well as for mental health services to be integrated into existing health systems, thereby maximising reach and minimising costs. It is important however that advocacy for this important cause does not stop at the end of this awareness month, but that it continues until mental health is treated as a priority by Government and other stakeholders in the health sector.
A recent report released by the South African Society for Psychiatrists (SASOP) on the state of care in the various provinces highlighted once again the poor state of mental healthcare currently available to mental healthcare users.
The report found:
- There are only six public sector psychiatrists serving the whole of Limpopo province
- Hayani hospital in Limpopo, a 390-bed mental health specialist hospital, currently has no psychiatrist.
- In all provinces, psychiatrists have to admit children and adolescents unlawfully into adult psychiatry wards.
- In Kwa-Zulu Natal, a massive specialist staffing crisis exists where only 20 of the 45 specialist posts are filled.
- No province currently has organised community-based psychiatric services.
SAFMH was hopeful that following the Life Esidimeni tragedy, Government would prioritise the implementation of the Mental Health Policy Framework and Strategic Action Plan (2013-2020), as well as the upscaling of mental healthcare nationwide. However to date this has not been the case. For example, one of SAFMH’s Mental Health Societies, Port Elizabeth Mental Health, this year received a funding cut of 57% by the Department of Social Development, seriously impacting their services and the organisations sustainability. Government cannot claim to be committed to rectifying tragedies like Life Esidimeni, while also making massive funding cuts to other mental health projects.
As this awareness month ends, SAFMH would like to again call on Government to provide increased support and funding for community based mental health services, as well as for the integration of mental health services into primary healthcare on a community level, to ensure that mental healthcare users are able to receive the quality treatment they deserve.
FOR ENQUIRIES INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
Programme Manager: Information & Awareness
SA Federation for Mental Health
011 781 1852