by Peter Noren

Mentally stable

Mental health: a state of mind

Mentally stable
Mental health: a state of mind

According to a Cape Town NGO and advocacy group, only 4% of the national health budget goes to mental health services.

The World Health Organisation estimates that, in seven years, depression will be the second-most-common cause of disability.

Recently the Cape Mental Health and the Cape Consumer Advocacy Body staged a protest to call for adequate mental health services. To highlight the shortage of beds in hospitals, they cluttered a busy walkway in the city centre with hospital beds during lunch hour.

One protestor held a poster which read: "I sat on a chair for 72 hours. [I was] Locked up all night.

"Many seriously ill, psychotic or suicidal service-users have had to wait before being admitted to hospital because of the shortage of beds," said Cape Mental Health chairman, Oscar January.

A 2008 Medical Research Council study found that 41% of those admitted to Western Cape psychiatric wards had a "substance-induced psychotic disorder".

About 31% were admitted for schizophrenia and 12% for mood disorders. Gadija Koopman, the deputy director of Cape Mental Health, said drug-induced psychosis was preventable.

"If the problem of drug abuse were addressed, we would not have that 41% eating away at limited hospital resources," said Koopman.

The two organisations cited studies in which it was estimated one in six people will develop a mental illness or psychiatric disability, with "bipolar mood disorders, schizophrenia, depression and anxiety some of the most common".

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Issue 16


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