Families suffer effect of new mental health policy

16 August 2016 - In June the Gauteng government ended its contract with Life Esidimeni, a company charged with providing care for patients with chronic mental health problems. This has left hundreds of patients and families in turmoil. Video: eNCA
16 August 2016 - Checkpoint meets a man on a mission to find his mentally-ill sister. She disappeared after the Gauteng Health Department transferred her to a new mental health facility. Video: eNCA
16 August 2016 - As countries such as Britain ramp up their efforts to provide better care for people with mental health challenges, South Africa appears to be doing the opposite. Video: eNCA

JOHANNESBURG - The impact of the Gauteng government's new mental health strategy has been disastrous for some families.

It means some mentally ill patients, who were housed in specialised centres,  are now in the care of their families.

Many of them say they simply can’t cope.

Earlier this year the Gauteng Health Department terminated its contract with a private service provider that ran mental health care centres.

READ: Mental illnesses neglected by government

It’s part of a plan to move people from what are seen as old-fashioned asylum-like institutions, into community-based care.

But some say it was a cost cutting measure, that simply isn’t working.

"The entire way in which government discharged the patients is infringing on their heath right…and right to security for their families and themselves,” said the president of the SA Society of Psychiatrists, Dr Mvuyiso Talatala.

Up until a few months ago, Life Esidimeni had been contracted to provide chronic mental healthcare to almost 2,000 patients, playing a vital role for people discharged from psychiatric institutions.

READ: Health department reassures families of mentally ill patients

The Gauteng Health Department says it is monitoring the situation.

* Checkpoint investigated this concern - watch the video report in the gallery above.



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