It’s very easy in South Africa, to indulge in mournful and negative opinions of our country and bleak predictions for its future. The haves frequently renew their foreign passports and apply for residence in allegedly safer, richer and kinder countries. The have nots shoulder the burden of living here, not in some imagined utopia where homesickness can be relished in peace, along with ludicrously priced cans of creme de la Creme Soda. In keeping with the adage, “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem,” it might be a good thing if the chicken runners took their offshore funds and their on-shore panic and left the rest of us to get on with it. I don’t know, I’m not an economist, but from a grassroots point of view, the doomsayers are eroding hope, and in the greater scheme of things, that is unforgivable. There are always, always people in politics and newspapers and at suburban brain croaking as ominously as Poe’s raven; it’s a given, it’s familiar and frankly I don’t think anyone has any realistic expectations of positive changes to the healthcare infrastructure. Bitching about the government is a national hobby everywhere, and a justifiable one too, but as important as advocating for political change is (advocating does not mean whining on Facebook, that’s just slacktivism), people are suffering visibly all around us and they shouldn’t have to wait for the rest of us who are waiting for Madiba’s resurrection or a meteor to land on Jacob Zuma’s head. What is positive, is the increase in voices calling for more action within communities and the call to action is becoming clearer and if the groundswell swells enough, we will have our hope back. Sometimes profound simplicity says it all, and to quote Hillel the Elder, “And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?”
Almost always quality reading, the Daily Maverick steps right up to the plate.
Mental health – the poor, crazy stepchild.”The hospital model doesn’t work. There are too few mental health professionals to reach everyone in need, so other community-based measures need to be explored.”
As if to illustrate the above, yet another psychiatric facility bites the dust, here’s the candy coated press release – Gauteng Health Terminates Life Healthcare Esidimeni Contract
The next one is a very, very very important article to read, no matter who, where or how you are. Srsly.
Mary-Jane Matsolo, wearing tight jeans, gold high-heeled sandals, and a white t-shirt with navy blue block letters reading “HIV Positive,” strides to the front of the Johannesburg conference room. “I’m the one who will make you understand patent laws and intellectual property rights,” she says to the dozen people gathered before her. “It’s what I do, and I do it very well.”
It’s nothing short of horrific, that the following Sunday Times cartoon is both accurate and long term.
As an aside, apart from her invaluable work for the Treatment Action Campaign, she sings. Beautifully. Here’s my favourite of hers.
And in the last part of October, this is still (and always will be) relevant.
October marks Mental Health Month which, this year, has the theme “Dignity in Mental Health”
“Any action, belief or policy that excludes people with mental disabilities and perpetuates stigma or entrenched discrimination, robs them of their dignity and denies their humanity.”
“There is nothing dignified about subjecting people with any illness to stigma and discrimination, adding to the problems they already cope with through the illness itself. We need to work harder towards changing social attitudes and spreading public awareness of the nature of mental illnesses,”
– Gita Harrie
And here’s what Lentegeur has to say.
Known as the ‘stepchildren’ of society, many individuals living with mental illnesses are often discriminated against, marginalised and abandoned by their family members or caregivers because of the stigma surrounding mental conditions. This rejection adversely impacts a mental health client’s self- respect, self worth and dignity of life. According to Estelle Silence, Social Worker Manager at Lentegeur Hospital, approximately 40 percent of the facility’s clients are often abandoned by their families. source
Take care out there; you matter.