Govt urged to dedicate more attention, resources on mental health

Studies showed that less than 1 in 10 South Africans living with mental health conditions received the care that they needed.

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CAPE TOWN - There are growing calls for government to dedicate more attention and resources to mental health.

Studies showed that less than 1 in 10 South Africans living with mental health conditions received the care they needed.

On Monday, Health Minister Joe Phaahla led a national dialogue on the issue as the world marked mental health month.

The Psychological Society of South Africa's Garth Stevens said that COVID-9 increased the mental health burden in several ways.

He cited the lockdown, which had vastly reduced social contact, leaving people with mood and anxiety disorders.

Stevens added that those who experienced losses or survived the virus needed psychological support.

"We pledge and call for a revitalisation of current mental health policies, increased funding for mental health services, the creation of additional psychology practitioner posts in the public sector in particular," Stevens said.

Minister Phaahla has noted concerns around mental health and said that while the COVID-19 situation had stabilised, the well-being of citizens should still be prioritised.

"Physical space in our health facilities, the human resources, the equipment, and we will redirect the financial resources which over the last 20 months or so have been diverted to attend to this pandemic," the minister said.

Phaahla stressed that government could not do this alone and would need other areas of society to help.

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