Academic journal article South African Journal of Psychiatry

South Africa Facing a Mental Illness 'Nightmare'

Academic journal article South African Journal of Psychiatry

South Africa Facing a Mental Illness 'Nightmare'

Article excerpt

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. …

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