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PRESS RELEASE: SAFMH STATEMENT FOLLOWING PRESENTATION ON MENTAL HEALTH IN SA

The SA Federation for Mental Health this week took part in the National Investigative Hearings on Mental Health, which took place from the 14th to the 15th of November at the South African Human Rights Commission Head office in Johannesburg. SAFMH would like to commend the Human Rights Commission for organising the hearing, so that solutions can be sought for the current problems that face South Africa’s mental health sector.

On the 15th of November, SAFMH Programme Manager for Advocacy and development, Charlene Sunkel, did a presentation based on the submission SAFMH made to the Human Rights Commission on the state of mental health care in South Africa. The submission was based on challenges that mental health care users reported to SAFMH as part of our research and advocacy work throughout the provinces.

Some of the challenges include:

  1. The shortage of available psychiatric beds in hospitals across most provinces
  2. The fact that upscaling of community based services and facilities is not taking place in line with the Mental Health Policy Framework and Strategic Action Plan
  3. The continued problem of medication stock outs at state hospitals and clinics, which results in increased relapses and hospitalisation for mental health care users
  4. Poor resources for awareness and education involving persons with mental disabilities, and the need for more emphasis on contact based education and awareness
  5. Lack of commitment from provinces towards the resourcing and implementation of the Mental Health Policy Framework

SAFMH has also offered some suggestions as part of our submission on how the Department of Health can address these issues, and how we believe mental health care should be prioritised in future.

As a national advocacy organisation, SAFMH and the South African Mental Health Advocacy Movement (SAMHAM), is offering our expertise to the Department of Health, to try and ensure that the revamping and upscaling of the mental health care system in South Africa is done in collaboration with mental health care users and families, and done so in a manner that is person-centred and based on best-practice, complies with national policies and legislation, and is aligned with international treaties such as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

It is of utmost importance that mental health care users and families are involved in any process that relates to matters that affect them directly. Mental health care users and families are able to play a valuable role inproviding guidance to upscaling mental health services, as they are the users of the system and are knowledgeable about the gaps that exist and can add valuable recommendations to address the challenges.

It is our hope that meaningful discussions and changes will come from the hearing, and we look forward to the opportunity to assist in the upscaling of mental health services in South Africa.

 

FOR ENQUIRIES INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Marthé Kotze

Programme Manager: Information & Awareness

SA Federation for Mental Health

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

011 781 1852

Office of the Premier, Radical Transformation  is proud to announce  in Disability Month 3rd November -3rd December a dedicated page within the eRecruitment portal for People with Disabilities to apply for employment within Gauteng Provincial Government. “Nothing about Us Without Us”

PRESS RELEASE: Mental Health Awareness Month – MANAGING CHRONIC STRESS IN THE WORKPLACE

Every year October is commemorated as Mental Health Awareness month, and this year the SA Federation for Mental Health focused on Mental Health in the Workplace. Throughout the month there was great interest from organisations and the public, and we encourage organisations to visit our website and make use of the information available to continue supporting their staff’s mental health.

One factor that often leads to mental health problems in the workplace, or that can make existing conditions worse, is chronic stress. Stress is a normal part of life; it affects people of all ages, genders, races and circumstances, and there is no way to avoid it completely. Stress is also not always a negative thing, it can sometimes provide the motivation and focus we need to help us overcome a difficult situation or task.

But when stress becomes chronic it can have very negative effects on our physical and mental health. Chronic stress can occur when everyday stressors are ignored or poorly managed or when an individual is exposed to traumatic events. Chronic stress differs from everyday stress in that it is constant and persistent over an extended period of time. Because of this, it can be both mentally and physically debilitating. Chronic stress can lead to the development of anxiety and depression, as well as substance use disorders.

In the workplace we are often bombarded with a number stressors on a daily basis. Deadlines, a heavy workload, having to manage difficult clients or conflict between co-workers, and not getting enough time off are just some of the factors that could lead to chronic stress developing at work. While most of us cannot control the amount of stressful events taking place in our lives at any given time, there are ways that you can take care of yourself and minimise the negative effects of chronic stress.

Ways to manage chronic stress –

  • Recognize and admit that stress exists. You cannot do anything about something that you do not acknowledge is present
  • Make the time, or manage your time in such a way that you can develop and implement strategies to manage the stress. Most stress management strategies require a commitment to taking the time to practice them
  • Take care of your physical health. Try to exercise at least three times a week, make sure to get enough sleep every night, and follow a balanced and healthy diet. All of these things will have an impact on your body’s ability to handle stress
  • Don’t self - medicate. During times of stress some people may try to manage the negative emotions and symptoms they experience by using alcohol or other harmful substances as a way of “self-medicating”. Using alcohol or illegal drugs to manage the symptoms of stress can have very negative effects on your mental state, and can lead to substance abuse problems
  • Find time to do things you enjoy. Whether it is playing sports, reading a book, listening to music, or spending some time outdoors, it is important to make time to do activities that help you recharge
  • Make use of your support network. It can be tempting to isolate yourself during times of extreme stress, but make use of the support of your friends and family. Even just speaking to someone close to you when times are difficult can be helpful
  • Speak to your manager or supervisor if you need support. In the workplace people often keep quite when they are struggling, because they are afraid of being seen in a negative light. But no one will be able to assist unless they know you need help. Managers can help in practical ways like assisting in prioritising tasks, allowing for flexible working hours when necessary, or by extending deadlines when possible
  • Seek medical help if necessary. There is no shame in seeking medical assistance when experiencing anxiety, depression, or other stress related problems. A medical professional may be able to suggest treatments such as medication or therapy that could help manage your symptoms

 Bharti Patel, National Director of SAFMH, has the following message as Mental Health Awareness month draws to a close; “SAFMH is concerned about the high rate of unemployment in South Africa, and recognises that this is something that needs urgent attention and intervention. But we also need to make sure that we take care of those who are employed. Employers have a responsibility to care for their employees by providing decent working environments and supportive wellness programmes in the workplace. Over the past few weeks SAFMH has been sharing educational material which can be used by employers and employees on how to support good mental health in the workplace, and we hope that organisations will make use of these materials throughout the year, not only during awareness months.”

 FOR ENQUIRIES INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Marthé Kotze

Programme Manager: Information & Awareness

SA Federation for Mental Health

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

011 781 1852

COMPETITION ALERT!

on 16 October 2017

Do you want to win a one night stay for two people, including breakfast, at the beautiful Glenburn Lodge & Spa? Then head on over to the SAFMH Facebook page to find out how you can enter... Competition closes 30 October. 

PRESS RELEASE: SAFMH HOPEFUL THAT ESIDIMENI ARBITRATION HEARINGS WILL LEAD TO CHANGE

The SA Federation for Mental Health welcomes the arbitration hearings currently taking place regarding the Life Esidimeni tragedy. While we recognise that the hearing and the details that are emerging will be emotionally taxing and difficult for the families of the victims, we wish them strength and hope that this process will help them to get the closure and justice they deserve.

It is our hope that the Gauteng Department of Health will take this process to heart, and will make the necessary efforts to self-correct. The fact that former MEC Qedani Mahlangu is not being called as a witness is disheartening, and we hope that all those responsible for what took place will indeed be brought to justice.

While we focus on the important task of helping the victims’ families and those affected by what happened at Life Esidimeni receive some form of justice, it is crucial that we also look at how we can prevent such a tragedy from happening again. From the time that the movement of patients from the Life Healthcare Facilities was announced in 2015, SAFMH and other stakeholders raised alarm over the fact that the proper procedures for deinstitutionalisation, as laid out in the Mental Health Policy Framework and Strategic Action plan, were not being followed. We were hopeful that following the Life Esidimeni tragedy Government would prioritise the implementation of the Policy Framework, but unfortunately to date this has not been the case. Unless our mental health policy and legislation is properly implemented and supported, mental health care in South Africa cannot improve. SAFMH will continue to advocate for the upscaling of community based mental health services, to help ensure that there are safe and reputable organisations where mental health care users can receive the care and support they need.

 

FOR ENQUIRIES INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Marthé Kotze

Programme Manager: Information & Awareness

SA Federation for Mental Health

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

011 781 1852

PRESS RELEASE: WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY – MENTAL HEALTH IN THE WORKPLACE

10 October is commemorated around the world as Mental Health Day, and this year the SA Federation for Mental Health is focusing on Mental Health in the Workplace. A great deal of research has been done to show the negative impacts that mental health problems have on the South African as well as Global economy. However, it is important that we also focus on the negative effect that discrimination and abuse of people with mental health problems in the workplace can have on individuals.

 A recent study by the United Kingdom based organisation Business in the Community (BITC), found that among UK based employees who had disclosed mental health issues to an employer, 15% faced dismissal, disciplinary action or demotion. This could mean as many as 1.2 million people are negatively affected for disclosing mental health problems. While no similar studies have as yet been in South Africa, statistics such as these show the potentially negative effects that mental health care users face in the workplace.

 It is the responsibility of organisations and employers to create a workplace culture that is accepting of persons with mental health conditions, and to protect the rights of persons with mental health conditions and mental disabilities. Employers have the opportunity to change the climate of fear regarding mental health in the workplace and become agents of change. By addressing mental health problems in the workplace and investing in mental health care for workers, employers can increase productivity and employee retention. Untreated mental disorders in employees can result in diminished productivity at work, reduced rates of labour participation, foregone tax based income, increase in workplace accidents, and higher staff turnover.

 There are a number of steps that organisations can take to support their employee’s mental health; the risk factors for stress in the workplace can be modified, and an organisational climate that promotes wellbeing and creativity can be developed by targeting workplace policies as well as the needs of individual employees. Similarly, effective treatments exist for common mental disorders, and an employer can facilitate access to care to those who may need it.

On the 10th of October SAFMH will be partnering with the South African Broadcasting Commission (SABC) to empower and educate SABC staff on how to protect and maintain their mental wellbeing, as well as what the rights of people with mental disabilities in the workplace are. In the same way SAFMH would like to encourage all organisations to prioritise the mental health of their staff, not just on the 10th of October, but throughout the year.

 

FOR ENQUIRIES INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Marthé Kotze

Programme Manager: Information & Awareness

SA Federation for Mental Health

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

011 781 1852