July is Psychosocial Disability Awareness Month. But it seems South Africa is aware of its psychosocial disabilities for all the wrong reasons. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
Late last week, psychiatry professor Dan Stein, after winning a National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) Award for research and output, said South Africa needed to invest more deeply into assisting patients with mental disorders.
“There is a feeling that there isn’t enough money for mental health services and research,” he said. “The problem is that not providing enough services and doing the related research on how to optimise such services is vastly more costly than doing so. So every year, we as a country lose more and more money because we haven’t made the right investments in the past.”
Stein is not wrong. Mental health issues cost the economy two to six times the cost of its treatment, or more. South Africans by their millions are receiving psychiatric diagnoses, and yet there is an enormous gap in the funding being given to this area.
Shock statistics abound in news reports; however, forming a nuanced picture is more challenging.
When attempting to ascertain the impact of mental health management – or mismanagement -…