It is estimated that “one in ten adults living in South Africa will have experienced major clinical depression at some point in their life but only 25% have sought treatment and care for their mental conditions, such as depression”. Although these estimates are based on the South African Stress and Health (SASH) study, last done in 2009, subsequent studies have stressed the significant challenge of reducing this treatment gap in the country. Elri Voigt asks how conditions like major depression and bipolar disorder are diagnosed and treated in the public sector in South Africa.
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.
Working with Groote Schuur Hospital’s frontline COVID team, Psychiatry Professor Jackie Hoare help manage the mental health of patients admitted with severe COVID pneumonia and also the mental health needs of fellow healthcare workers. Bienne Huisman caught up with her to talk about providing counselling at the bedside of COVID patients and how we deal with the complexities of grief in a time of COVID-19.
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.
In its observations on South Africa, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) expressed grave concern regarding the rights of people with psychosocial disabilities. Professor Lesley Robertson looks at our medical model of disability and mental health legislation and unpacks the change needed at the societal and health system levels.
Already very long waiting times for gender-affirming surgery in South Africa’s public sector have gotten even longer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tiyese Jeranji investigates the challenges transgender persons in the country face in accessing gender-affirming care.
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.
It’s been over a year since COVID-19 first hit South Africa. Since then, many people have been living in constant fear and many have lost loved ones. Frontline healthcare workers had no choice but to face their fears if they were to keep doing the life-saving work they were trained for. Amy Green and colleagues explore the emotional toll that South Africa’s third wave of COVID-19 is taking on healthcare workers.
Although individual families of the mental healthcare users who died after they were discharged from Life Esidimeni in 2016 have been compensated for the violation of their constitutional rights, the actors responsible for the deaths, suffering, and torture of the mental healthcare patients have yet to be held criminally accountable. But that could change after a formal Judicial Inquest into the deaths, starting at the Pretoria High Court on 19 July 2021.
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.