Gauteng Health On Mental Health Summit

Mental Health stakeholder’s converge at Gallagher Estate

Addressing about 300 delegates at the Mental Health Summit held at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, Gauteng Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa emphasised the need for all to ensure that mental health rights become human rights and are protected.

Under the theme “Together Promoting Mental Health Rights: Break the stigma, break the silence” the summit explored ways of ensuring commitment and involvement of all stakeholders in advocating and protecting the rights of mental health care users. The four focus areas of the summit were: Mental Health development agenda, Mental Health in the workplace, the youth and mental health and lessons learnt.

The summit took stock of what happened during and post the Gauteng Mental Health Marathon Project that resulted in the death of more than 100 patients, the progress made in transforming mental healthcare services and measures put in place to deal with the challenges still faced by the mental health sector.

“We need to strengthen relationships between service providers and users as well as ensuring that users are treated with dignity and that their right to privacy is upheld. We also need to change to a future that will make sure that a tragedy such as Life Esidimeni will never happen again” said MEC Ramokgopa.

MEC Ramokgopa further pleaded with stakeholders to be at the forefront of mental health issues as development partners and urged all stakeholders to work together to break the silence and the stigma.

“In South Africa 16, 5% of the population have mental health problems, whilst in the UK, 25%, which is 1 in 4 people suffer from mental illness. Gauteng has 72 hours observation services for patients that may have a mental illness in general hospitals across the province. We also have designated mental health beds for users”, added the MEC.

The MEC urged delegates to use the summit as a spring board for ensuring that mental health care services becomes part of mainstream health services.

“Mental health is everyone’s business. We have strengthened the mental health review boards and we are at a point of ensuring that all primary health care centres offer initial treatment on mental services and are able to refer patients to the next level of care”.

“Mental illness is a behavioural, mental, or emotional disorder that interferes with the person’s lifestyle, however with early diagnosis, care, treatment and rehabilitation most people can recover from the illness”, concluded MEC Ramokgopa.

Issued by: Gauteng Health