South Africa facing a mental illness 'nightmare'.
Mental illness (Care and treatment)
Mental illness (Social aspects)
Mental health law (Planning)
|Publication:||Name: South African Journal of Psychiatry Publisher: South African Medical Association Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 South African Medical Association ISSN: 1608-9685|
|Issue:||Date: Dec, 2008 Source Volume: 14 Source Issue: 4S|
|Topic:||Event Code: 690 Goods & services distribution; 290 Public affairs; 220 Strategy & planning Advertising Code: 59 Channels of Distribution Computer Subject: Company distribution practices; Company business planning|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: South Africa Geographic Name: South Africa Geographic Code: 6SOUT South Africa|
South Africa is facing a mental illness 'nightmare' that
could have disastrous consequences if funds are not made available and
drastic action is not taken, warn researchers and medical authorities.
The University of Cape Town's Mental Health and Poverty Project has
just released a report on the state of mental health policy and service
provision in South Africa, the first of its kind.
According to the report, in South Africa neuropsychiatric conditions are ranked 3rd in their contribution to the burden of disease, after HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. A major epidemiological study found that some 16.5% of South Africans suffered from common mental disorders (depression, anxiety and somatoform disorders) in the last year, while a review of existing studies revealed that about the same proportion (17%) of children and adolescents suffer from mental disorders. However, there is no evidence of differences in prevalence between socially defined racial groups or cultural groups.
Based on interviews with a wide range of stakeholders, the study indicated that there is inadequate public awareness of mental health, and limited knowledge about the causes of mental illness. Partly as a result, mental health is given low priority on national and provincial policy agendas, across a range of sectors. There is also evidence of a vicious cycle of poverty and mental illhealth, which is poorly understood and inadequately addressed in policy or service delivery.
The Department of Health has not formally adopted and implemented a national mental health policy, but has developed a set of national 'policy guidelines'. The translation of these guidelines into provincial mental health policies and plans has not been consistent, with only 4 provinces taking this step.
In addition, the Department has devoted energy and resources to the development of a Mental Health Care Act (2002). While appearing to be a highly appropriate and important milestone in the development of the mental health system in South Africa, the Act in itself does not appear to be adequate to bring about major reforms needed for the mental health system in South Africa. As a result there are major limitations to policy implementation.
There is therefore a need to step up implementation of the legislation, to adopt a national mental health policy and to translate policy into service delivery. Other steps that need to be taken include developing provincial strategic plans for mental health and a national mental health information system.
|Gale Copyright:||Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.|