ONE in every five people will suffer from a mental illness. Every 24 hours in South Africa 22 people commit suicide, 220 people attempt suicide and 9,5% of teen deaths are due to suicide.
Yet, there are only 284 psychiatrists to care for South Africas 46 million people and over 160 of them work in the private sector.
In Limpopo, with a population of 5,6 million people, there is no government psychiatrists.
Mpumalanga with 3,5 million people, has no government psychiatrist and the North-West Province has one government psychiatrist for 3,8 million people. The Northern Cape also has only one government psychiatrist.
There are two government psychiatric intake facilities in Johannesburg where patients, who are psychotic or suicidal, can be taken yet these wards are full to capacity, says psychiatrist Dr Sebo Seape.
Too often patients have to go to a general ward or travel hours to get help and often that help is simply not available or adequate. Compared with 14 other countries (including Germany, France, Nigeria and Mexico), South Africa has the second highest prevalence for substance abuse and the seventh highest for depression. Why then does South Africa spend such a low percentage of its health budget on mental health
The Northern Cape spends only 1% of its health budget on mental health and the North West spends only 5% of its health budget on mental health.
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) is at the forefront of patient advocacy and education in South Africa. As one of South Africas largest mental health initiatives, Sadag runs the only toll free suicide crisis line, and only toll free substance abuse line in the country. They also do extensive work to promote awareness about mental health, destigmatise mental illness and educate people about mental weilness.