South Africa: Mind Field - SA Urgently Needs a New Mental Health Policy

Diepsloot in South Africa (file photo).

This is the first in a series of articles on mental health. Here the writers explain why, in May 2021, South Africa faces a serious mental health policy crisis. The National Mental Health Policy Framework and Strategic Action Plan (2013-2020) has lapsed; it requires an urgent update, specifically in light of Covid-19 and the growing mental health needs of the country.

Before Covid-19 came along and turned our lives upside down, mental health service delivery in low- and middle-income countries was already poor, with access to services hamstrung by stigma, inadequate infrastructure and poverty.

These shortfalls have become even more pronounced since Covid-19 hit, with health and social care systems ill-equipped to deal with the pandemic's sudden and severe demands. Covid-19 has led to further disruptions in mental health services, together with increases in human rights violations against mental health care users.

Apart from threatening our lives and livelihoods, Covid-19 has also highlighted inequalities and deficiencies, divisions in class and race, gaps between persons with disability and those who are able-bodied, and disparities in access to care and resource distribution.

Don't want to see ads?

Covid-19 has affected mental health in wide-ranging ways, leaving no section of any society untouched....

AllAfrica publishes around 500 reports a day from more than 100 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.