100 Years Of Mental Health Service

SAFMH News Room

The South African Federation for Mental Health (SAFMH) is officially 100 years old! The organisation was established in 1920 with the aim of coordinating, monitoring and promoting mental health services for persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities. As we celebrate this important milestone, we have developed a video with the support of the National Lotteries Commission to celebrate a century of mental health service and reflect on some of our achievements over the past 100 years.

For the past century, SAFMH has worked tirelessly to promote mental health for all South Africans, while also focusing on the protection of the human rights of people with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities. The organisation is the biggest mental health federation in the country and acts as a resource centre equipped with the latest information on mental health. SAFMH is an important mental health advocacy body that works to influence government on the effective implementation of mental health policy and legislation. The organisation is committed to fighting for improved mental health services that contribute towards the well-being of mental health care users, including their ability to access mental health services within communities where they live.

SAFMH works with 17 independent Mental Health Societies (MHS) that are an excellent model for community-based mental healthcare. Over the years, the organisation has contributed to building capacity of community-based mental health organisations that offer direct mental health care services to MHCUs to ensure that these organisations are able to offer effective and quality mental health care services. SAFMH has worked to integrate persons with intellectual and psychosocial disability into society through public awareness campaigns and education on mental health. This has contributed to busting myths around mental health and the eradication of stigma and discrimination against persons with mental health disorders.

In 2007 SAFMH established South African Mental Health Advocacy Movement (SAMHAM) in recognition of the importance of giving persons with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities a voice, and further recognising that they are ultimately the experts in mental health and should thus always be key partners among all stakeholders within the mental health sector. The SAMHAM committee plays an important role in identifying and providing much needed perspective informed by lived experiences on the challenges faced by persons with mental health disorders.

SAFMH offers presentations and workshops on mental health in the workplace in order to assist companies in developing strategies towards improving the mental health of employees as well as towards the reasonable accommodation of persons with mental illness in the workplace. The Corporate Wellness programme also offers customised sessions that have been tailored to suit the needs of different workplaces and fosters mental health in a place of work.

In its long existence, SAFMH has a track record of mental health advocacy and has worked with local, national and international partners to ensure that mental health is on the agenda of those who have the responsibility of introducing and implementing policies. As we celebrate our centenary we want to thank those who have dedicated their lives to mental health. We look forward to continuing our work with other organisations, government, our local and international partners and individuals to ensure than mental health for all is realised.

Watch our centenary video here:

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