22 November 2017

South Africa: Commission Hears of Severe Problems in Mental Health Care

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Problems in mental health were brought into sharp focus during the Esidimeni tragedy. Twenty-three years after democracy, provinces still fail mental health care users in provinces around the country. By PUSELETSO NTHATE.

The South Africa Human Rights Commission convened a two-day investigative hearing on the status of Mental Health Care in South Africa.

This follows after the tragic deaths of Esidimeni mental health patients who were relocated from the centre to various NGOs by the Gauteng Department of Health.

Dr Monicah Ndala, a psychiatrist in Limpopo, told the commission that the province has no facilities to cater for children and adolescents who are in need of mental health care.

She said children and adolescents in need of mental health care were still kept at the same facilities as adults. "We admit them to different psychiatrists in cubicles closest to the nurses' stations for close supervision to ensure that there is no adult molestation," explained Ndala.

She stated that the province has many challenges, including a lack of human resources, clinical staff, and infrastructure.

"The province's current specialised psychiatrist hospital approved beds are 953 in total," said Ndala.

She further said there were cases where family refused to take patients back...

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