SA critically short of expertise, resources for the mentally ill
PUBLIC sector attitudes towards mental health and treatment conditions in South Africa remain generally negative.
A study conducted by the Mental Health and Poverty Project (MHaPP) has concluded that despite a progressive and supportive policy framework for mental health, and in spite of evidence of interventions that could address mental health systematically in the country, it receives low priority on the public sector agenda.
The MHaPP at the department of psychiatry and mental health at the University of Cape Town is due to evaluate international research that has identified a link between poverty and mental ill-health in low and middle-income countries.
In SA, mentally ill patients depend on 23 public mental hospitals, which translates into just 18 beds per 100 000 people Even worse, the number of beds has decreased by 7,7% in the past five years.
The MHaPP study found that specialised human resources were equally limited. There are currently only 0,28 psychiatrists, 0,45 other medical doctors, 10,08 nurses, 0,32 psychologists, 0,4 social workers and 0,13 occupational therapists per 100 000 people across the country.
There are 41 psychiatric inpatient units in general hospitals in South Africa with a total of 2,8 beds per 100 000 people.
The MHaPP study also discovered that there was little co-ordination in mental health matters across key public sectors such as health, education, employment and social development. ? pl~!cng~n@c1tize~~. co.za ?Far too often, critically suicidal patients have to wait for hours to be admitted and often they are turned away due to lack of space,? says the SA Depression and Anxiety Group.