Experts have expressed serious concerns after the government’s recent admission that there is a growing number of untreated mentally ill patients in South Africa.
Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla revealed in Parliament that more than six-million people with common mental disorders were still waiting for treatment.
At the heart of Dr Phaahla’s written reply to a Parliamentary question is the shortage of professional psychiatric specialists in both public hospitals and the private institutions.
Clinical psychologist Dr Saths Cooper says Dr Phaahla will have to swiftly engage all the relevant stakeholders to find a common solution to this challenge.
“It is unconscionable that South Africa should confront this burden of a mental health disease at a time when they can least afford it. We see it, the symptoms of this through gender based violence, through abuse against children and other vulnerable in our society, through the crime of statistics that makes us notorious. This has to change and I’m sure that Minister Phaahla and his department will engage with relevant sectors particularly the professional ones. The psychological professions of South Africa amongst others.”