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July is commemorated as Psychosocial Disability Awareness month, and this year the South African Federation for Mental Health is focused on raising awareness around the issue of stock outs of psychiatric medication, and the negative effect this has on mental health care users. 

According to the June 2016 Stop Stock Outs Survey, Haloperidol, an antipsychotic medication, was found to be unavailable at 13% of national clinics. In provinces such as Mpumalanga and Limpopo, 33% of clinics reported stock outs of the drug. Haloperidol is classified as an essential medication, and mental health care users whose treatment includes haloperidol should be guaranteed access to the medication at all times. Being unable to access this medication could lead to a return of psychosis symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations as well as relapse, undoing months or even years of hard work to reach a point where the mental health care user is healthy and stable. Unfortunately Haloperidol is simply one of many psychiatric medications that are often unavailable at clinics and hospitals. SAFMH would like to stress the importance of addressing these stock outs of psychiatric medications, and the need to prioritise the health and recovery of South Africa’s mental health care users. 

For people living with mental disorders or disabilities, access to psychiatric medication is essential for their recovery and enables them to live fully productive lives and function as active members of their community. When service users want to access medication and remain treatment compliant, but are unable to do so due to medication stock outs, it is a violation of their human rights, as it infringes on their right to health and dignity.  

The National Mental Health Policy Framework stipulates that all psychiatric medication must be available at all levels of care. This however does not reflect the reality as stock outs of psychiatric medication is a problem that many mental health care users face on a regular basis. SAFMH would like to encourage both the National and Provincial Departments of Health to place greater emphasis on ensuring that service users’ right to health and dignity are protected by ensuring the availability and accessibility of all psychiatric medications at all levels of health care, as well as ensuring the full implementation of the Mental Health Policy Framework. Members of the public are also encouraged to report any medication stock outs to The Stop Stock Outs Campaign, as well as The Mental Health Watch Reporting System.  


The Stop Stock Outs Campaign: 

Report stock outs to:

084 855 7867 - SMS, Please Call Me, Phone, WhatsApp

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Mental Health Watch Reporting System: 

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011 781 1852 

Sms/Whatsapp – 076 0788 722 


For Enquiries/information: 

Marthé Viljoen

Programme Manager: Information & Awareness

T: +27 (0)11 781 1852

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