Survivors of sexual assault and gender-based violence (GBV) often require mental healthcare services to deal with the psychological trauma, but these services are often not available in already overburdened shelters and safe houses where resources are limited. Sue Segar visited some shelters and spoke to experts about this unmet need for women and children.
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.
According to some estimates, over a third of tuberculosis (TB) patients have high levels of psychological distress and a quarter have an alcohol use disorder. Following an eye-opening project in KwaZulu-Natal, Atlantic Institute Tekano Fellow Amanda Fononda argues that a diagnosis of an illness (such as TB) should be accompanied by mental health screening for treatment readiness, adherence, and overall well-being.
Passionate about community psychiatry, Professor Lesley Robertson spent the bulk of her career as a psychiatrist pushing for mental health reform in South Africa. Now, as head of the community psychiatry clinical unit at Sedibeng District Health Service, she is still pushing – among others to improve the essential medicines lists for psychiatric medicines and shore up community-based networks of churches, community groups, and assisted living homes as soft landings for people in need. Ufrieda Ho spoke to her as part of Spotlight’s Women in Health series.
Mental health does not have its own ring-fenced budget and given huge inefficiencies in our mental health spending, we need to be strategic on where and how we spend the little we have. Alicestine October unpacks what a new government-commissioned mental health investment case framework can mean for access to equitable and quality mental health services in the country.
This month it is two years since Northern Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul opened the multimillion-rand Kimberley Mental Health Hospital, calling it a ‘monument of corruption’. By then, Saul said the hospital, which has a capacity of 287 beds, already had 160 patients and will be operationalised in phases. Yet, union Nehawu, community healthcare workers, activists, and some mental health practitioners insist mental health users in the public sector are still disadvantaged because the hospital is still not running at capacity. Refilwe Mochoari reports.
A 36-year-old mother living with HIV from Thabong in Welkom in the Free State is among the many millions of people in South Africa who rely on public healthcare services. Also, like many others, the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated disruptions have left her in a constant struggle with anxiety. Refilwe Mochoari asks what mental health services are available to people in the Free State who depend on the public healthcare system.
Six years after the Life Esidimeni tragedy, an inquest into the circumstances under which more than a thousand psychiatric patients were moved into the care of NGOs and about 144 died, is set to start in the North Gauteng High Court in July. Meanwhile, some mental health NGOs and activists maintain that the Gauteng Department of Health is still short-changing mental health services. Thabo Molelekwa reports.