The aim of this study is to examine mental health policy and systems in South Africa, with a view to identifying the key barriers to mental health policy development and implementation, and steps that can be taken to strengthen the mental health system in the country. This study forms part of a broader international mental health research consortium based in Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia, which aims to investigate the policy level interventions that are required to break the vicious cycle of poverty and mental illhealth, in order to generate lessons for a range of low- and middle-income countries.
The study made use of quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Quantitative methods were employed to assess current mental health resources and service utilisation. Qualitative methods were employed to provide an understanding of the processes, underlying issues and interactions between key stakeholders in mental health policy development and implementation. Methodology is detailed in Chapter 2 of the report.
Results of the study are presented in Chapter 3 under the following main headings; Context; Mental health situation; General policy making processes in South Africa; Process of mental health policy and law; Mental health policy implementation at national and provincial level; Mental health policy implementation at district level; and Key issues in current mental health service provision in South Africa.
The remainder of the report includes discussion, conclusions, recommendations, and a number of annexes relating to mental health policy. The findings of this first phase of the study will be used to inform a set of interventions, developed in partnership with the national Directorate: Mental Health and Substance Abuse in the Department of Health. The interventions conducted in the second phase will set out to address particular barriers to the successful development and implementation of mental health policy in South Africa. These interventions will be documented and evaluated, with a view to generating lessons that may be of value for future work in this country and in other low- and middle-income countries.
Cape Town, South Africa: Mental Health and Poverty Project. 352 pp.