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SADAG raises alarm over dire state of SA’s psychiatric facilities

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) has raised concerns over the state of the country’s psychiatric facilities.

This follows reports revealing that psychiatric patients at the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg are facing dreadful conditions.

Sadag says there aren’t enough public mental-health institutions in the country, forcing hospitals to overcrowd the psychiatric wards due to capacity constraints.

Data from 2019 discloses that of the people living with mental illness, 85% of them depend on public-health institutions, and that only 18 beds are available for every 100,000 people. Children and adolescents only receive 1% of these beds.

Underfunding has contributed to a huge mental-health staff and bed shortage, says the Department of Health.

Reports highlight that the department has set aside just 5% of the total public healthcare budget for mental-healthcare expenditure in its seven-year strategy released this year and that there is a desperate shortage of in-patient beds: Mpumalanga, for example, has no psychiatric hospitals and doctors there have to refer patients to Gauteng.

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