Earlier this year, the annual Child Gauge indicated that child and adolescent mental health services in South Africa are in crisis – mostly due to inadequate resources. How to best provide such services within the constraints of our public healthcare system is an open question. Tiyese Jeranji visited the Michael Mapongwane Community Health Centre in Khayelitsha where a pilot project aimed at improving kids’ access to mental health services is showing encouraging results.
The latest edition of the South African Child Gauge focuses on child and adolescent mental health and highlights the importance of early interventions for good mental health outcomes. Tiyese Jeranji looked at the report’s findings and recommendations and asked the health department how it will tackle issues highlighted about child and adolescent mental health in the country.
Globally it is estimated that around one in five to one in ten children and adolescents are affected by mental health disorders. In South Africa, the numbers are highly uncertain, particularly at provincial level, where hardly any data is being gathered. Research suggests that a lack of intersectoral collaboration has resulted in children falling through the cracks – so much so that one expert now says South Africa is completely unable to meet the mental health needs of its children. Tiyese Jeranji investigates.