Academic journal article South African Journal of Psychiatry

Contributions from the South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP) to the National Mental Health Action Plan

Academic journal article South African Journal of Psychiatry

Contributions from the South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP) to the National Mental Health Action Plan

Article excerpt

'While there is no health without mental health, there is also no complete mental health without psychiatry.'--SASOP [1]

This paper describes events that have contributed to the recent drafting of a national Mental Health Action Plan (MHAP), as well as the South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP's) recent engagements with the MHAP. These events include: (i) the National Health Council (NHC's) initiation of the development of a Mental Health Policy Framework and Strategic Plan; [2] (ii) new policy developments by the national Department of Health (DoH) informed by, among others things, consultation and data collected through the Mental Health and Poverty Project (MHaPP); and specifically (iii) the NHC's intention of hosting a National Mental Health Summit (NMHS).

The NMHS was preceded by provincial summits, which aimed to: (i) review the quality and quantity of provincial mental health services; (ii) identify key challenges in the mental healthcare system; (iii) provide information on best practices that had emerged since 1994; and (iv) agree on key interventions to be prioritised and implemented as part of the reorganisation and strengthening of the health system.

These provincial summits were led by provincial members of executive committees (MECs) during February and March 2012. The NMHS followed in April 2012, chaired by the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, at the St Georges Hotel in Gauteng. [3] Its theme was 'Scaling up investment in mental health for a long and healthy life for all South Africans'. [4] The provincial and national summits were attended by over 4 000 delegates overall, comprising representatives of the National Assembly, Provincial Legislatures, government departments, Mental Health Review Boards (MHRBs), non governmental organisations (NGOs), the World Health Organization (WHO), academic institutions, research organisations, professional bodies, traditional health practitioners, clinicians and advocacy organisations. After three days of deliberations, the NMHS adopted the Ekurhuleni Declaration, which listed the specific commitments by delegates and the consequences for its implementation. [5]

Following the NMHS, a task team was established under the stewardship of Deputy Health Minister Gwen Ramakgopa, to develop a strategic action plan for implementing the resolutions from the NMHS and from the draft policy framework. [2] This task team was comprised of the NMHS's organising committee. It was chaired by Prof. S Rataemane, with Prof. C Lund as vice chair. The team met in Pretoria in December 2012 and February 2013 and produced the first draft MHAP, which listed all the key actions identified in the Ekurhuleni Declaration and the draft policy framework. The second draft included eight objectives with 'catalytic' key activities--that is, requiring the most effective resource inputs for the maximum results.

Following further comments from role players and inputs from the NMHS organising committee, a final draft of the MHAP was completed in line with key mental health policy and legislation, including: the South African Constitution; [6] the National Health Act; [7] the Mental Health Care Act; [8] the Criminal Procedure Act; [9] the Children's and Child Justice Act; [10] and the Prevention and Treatment of Substance Dependency Act. [11] The final draft MHAP also took cognizance of the National Service Delivery Agreement, [12] the Integrated School Health Policy, [13] the National Development Plan, [14] the Human Resources Strategy, [15] the Non-Communicable Diseases Strategy, [16] the National Drug Master Plan, [17] and the National Strategic Plan on HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and TB. [18] Lastly, the MHAP was aligned with the activities regarding the planned national health insurance (NHI) system. [19] The final MHAP draft was scheduled for submission to the NHC, and expected to be approved in the second half of 2013. At time of going to print the document had not been officially released. …

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