Only 1 in 10 mental health sufferers get help

Fewer than one in 10 South Africans with a mental health condition are receiving help, according to research by the University of Cape Town (UCT).

The UCT survey evaluating the SA mental health system found the government spent only five percent of the health budget on mental health services. This is the lower end of recommended international benchmarks.

It estimated a “treatment gap” of 92 percent. “This means that fewer than one in 10 people living with a mental health condition in SA receive the care they need,” noted researchers from UCT and the Medical Research Council.

The study found huge disparities in the allocation of resources. In Mpumalanga, the government spent R58 per uninsured resident compared to R307 in the Western Cape. Inpatient care took up 86% of the mental health budget while primary care was at only eight percent.

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“This reflects a reactive mental health care system. The focus is on treating the most severe conditions, rather than preventing or providing early interventions,” the study noted.

Health expert, Vanessa Ascencao encouraged South Africans to be conscious of anxiety, depression and stress.

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“Educate yourself on mental health and consult a health professional. Also take preventative steps like eating nutritious meals, exercising, and sleeping well. Additionally,  taking the right supplements such as Felix Saffron. This potent saffron extract has been proven to help enhance mood, counter unhealthy cravings and impact positively on mild to moderate depression.”

Ascencao suggested the following additional tips to help manage anxiety:

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  • Identify and avoid triggers.
  • Draft a realistic daily plan aimed at countering anxiety.
  • Make time to connect with loved ones regularly.
  • Identify coping strategies such as deep breathing, yoga, listening to music and spending time outdoors.

Have a look at some of our other posts on mental health.

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