The Life Esidimeni Inquest stands as a crucial accountability process for a national tragedy that ought never to have happened and should never happen again, writes Julia Chaskalson and Mbali Baduza as they summarise and assess progress at the inquest since October – having previously written about the first months of the inquest from July to October last year.
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.
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.
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.
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.