[…] there are only 1,12 psychiatrists, 1,28 psychologists and 1,6 social workers per 400,000 people in South Africa. And, of the 23 mental hospitals in the country, only 18 (mental health) beds are allocated per 100,000 people. To say that this is a national crisis would be an understatement. (source)
Ward 13 is the psych ward of a state hospital an hour’s drive away. I’m an outpatient there, I get roughly half of my meds there, blood tests too, and a CT scan (amazingly enough, they managed to locate a brain). I’ll be taking my treatment resistant bipolar self there for ECT as an inpatient when there’s availability for me to do so. I’ve had nothing but excellent care there and the staff have all been incredibly efficient and friendly. Considering the psychiatric department runs at between a quarter and a half of the staff quota, they’re heroes to me. There are huge, huge problems that efficient staff can’t solve beyond interim measures – no food for patients, for example. In that instance, a member of management staff heard about it and hit the roof before buying food for them all herself. And I can guarantee you that her salary is a pittance.
I wanted to show you around the parts of the hospital that I use – photography is forbidden and that’s my excuse for the truly crappy photos (I also completely avoid photographing faces, if I’ve done so, I crop or blur them out). Bear in mind that you’re not seeing the worst side of things here. The pictures are explained in the captions once you open the slideshow. Included is a terrible photo of a sangoma (shaman).
One in three South Africans will experience a mental illness or disorder in their lifetime, according to Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. The South African Federation for Mental Health estimates 8 000 people commit suicide in the country each year. Health patients such as Mabena, who are also HIV positive, are most affected by the unavailability of medication for mental illnesses.
“Sub-Saharan Africa is confronted with frightening HIV statistics and it is estimated that half of HIV-infected patients have a mental illness,” according to a Southern African HIV Clinicians Society 2014 publication.