SAHRC hearings: Each province doesn’t have its own mental healthcare budget

The hearings are aimed at addressing any violations of mental healthcare in the country following the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

A South African Human Rights Commission panel. Picture: Katleho Sekhotho/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Health says it doesn’t have a policy of deinstitutionalisation of mental health care in South Africa.

The department says because of the word and connotations attached to it, it has instead a policy to build strong community-based services.

Representatives from the Health Department and the South African Society of Psychiatrists are making submissions at the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) hearings on Tuesday.

The hearings are aimed at addressing any violations of mental healthcare in the country following the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

Deputy Director-General of Primary Health Care Jeanette Hunter says the department is focused on training specialist teams at district levels.

This is to provide mentorship to general practitioners and nurses to ensure proper screening.

“The mental health policy framework and strategy prioritises the establishment of district mental health teams.”

Hunter says the aim is to strengthen mental healthcare at a district level, especially in rural communities.

“On an annual basis, there’s placement of a total of not less than 8,000 community service health professionals.”

She says the department admits there are a number of gaps - one being that each province doesn’t have its own mental healthcare budget.

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(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)