South Africa: Educating the Innovators for Community Mental Health Promotion

The many tolls of COVID-19 will be counted and measured. It’s likely though, that we’ll never get a clear picture of the pandemic’s impact on our mental health. Yes, the suicides are being tallied up, but mental health issues manifest in many more ways. Mental healthcare is the poor, neglected orphan of healthcare services. While there’s far more focus than there has ever been on the importance of mental health; the majority of people with mental health concerns do not access the care they need to heal and transform their lives. This is particularly the case in South Africa, where the need is staggeringly high and exacerbated by widespread chronic poverty, crime, unemployment, violence, disease, discrimination and domestic abuse. Now, COVID-19 has ushered in a sustained crisis of fear and anxiety, trauma and grief.

According to Dr Jaclyn Lotter, the Deputy Dean at SACAP (the South African College of Applied Psychology) only around 15% of South Africans with mental health problems will receive some form of treatment in their lifetime. She says: “It is estimated that within our current model of mental health care, 0.39 psychiatrists and 0.69 psychologists are employed in the public sector for every 100 000 South…

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