There has been an increase in the number of acute psychiatric admissions in the Western Cape since June, adding to the existing pressure on bed capacity in the province’s hospitals. Tiyese Jeranji unpacks the numbers and the provincial health department’s plans to address them.
In recent years there have been various reports with damning findings on the state of mental healthcare services in the Eastern Cape. Luvuyo Mehlwana and Alicestine October assess what has and what hasn’t changed after recommendations from the Public Protector, the Health Ombud, the PSC, and the HSRC, and almost as many undertakings in response by the Eastern Cape Department of Health.
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.
Once widely hailed, South Africa’s Mental Health Policy Framework and Strategic Plan 2013 – 2020 lapsed last year, with mixed reviews on its implementation from mental healthcare stakeholders. The National Department of Health now says the revised and updated Policy Framework and Plan will be in place in the next financial year. Tiyese Jeranji spoke to experts and activists about what the lapsed policy framework achieved and what to improve.
Studies have shown that the rate of mental health problems, such as suicidality, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress, increase after natural disasters. Mbalenhle Baduza unpacks the findings of a recent report by the Centre for Environmental Rights on the psychological and mental health consequences of climate change in South Africa.
The ongoing judicial inquest into the deaths of mental healthcare users during the Life Esidimeni tragedy in 2016, has again been postponed this week. It is the fifth time the proceedings have been postponed since the inquest started in July this year, signalling that there is still a long road ahead for determining any criminal accountability for these deaths. Julia Chaskalson takes stock of the progress so far and what to expect in the months ahead.
Over 30% of those living in South Africa have experienced a depressive, anxiety, or substance use disorder in their lifetime, according to a national survey. Yet studies show only 15% of those with mental health conditions receive treatment. Laura Owings explores what role community healthcare workers can play in addressing this lack of access to care.
Almost half of the most commonly used medications to treat mental illness in South Africa were out of stock in August, and many have been in short supply since March. Now, experts warn that amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the nation could see a “shadow epidemic” of psychiatric illness. Laura Lopez Gonzalez investigates.