The IFP, as the Official Opposition in the KZN Legislature, calls for more awareness around Mental Health, as we mark World Mental Health Day today.
We are of the view that poor mental health could be avoided through investment in prevention and early intervention measures. This includes actions that address the social and economic circumstances that influence mental health, such as reducing poverty.
It is critical for all KZN Provincial Departments – including the KZN Legislature – to invest in strategies to prevent mental health problems in all stages of life.
KZN MEC for Health, Nomagugu Simelane, provided the following responses to parliamentary questions raised by the IFP on how many psychiatric patients need care in KZN (according to the Mental Health Data for Q1 2022/23):
- There were 2 279 involuntary mental health hospital admissions.
- 3 313 090 clients screened for mental health and substance abuse disorders were 18 years and older.
- 2 657 clients were treated for mental health disorders.
On this issue of the issue of beds needed to cater for psychiatric patients in KZN, the MEC revealed that there were 4 493 beds needed and there are no dedicated beds for psychiatric patients, as patients share the medical ward.
In addition, with regards to how many psychiatric specialists are employed by the Department in public hospitals, the MEC revealed that there were 23 psychiatrists, 91 psychologists, 249 social workers and 179 occupational therapists.
We call for more psychiatric hospital to be built so that these patients can receive the specialised care needed.
Further, the IFP call for the eradication of the stigma often associated with mental health challenges.
In addition, it is saddening that each year many people are lose their jobs due to poor mental health. It is essential that employers play an integral role in tackling mental health challenges by ensuring that there is healthy working environment and promoting and protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of employees. Employees must also be well informed about what support is available to them with regards to their health in the workplace.
We can also not afford to neglect the mental wellbeing of our children and youth. According to a 2022 UNICEF U-Report poll, “73 per cent of children and youth felt they needed mental health support over the past year”.
Mental health and wellbeing must be prioritised every day, not just once a year.
Mrs Ncamisile Nkwanyana MPL
IFP KZN Provincial Spokesperson for Health
078 302 3991