About the SA Federation for Mental Health
Promoting community mental health care and deinstitutionalisation and fighting for the rights of persons with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities.
The South African Federation for Mental Health (SAFMH) is a national non-governmental organisation and was founded in 1920, originally called The South African National Council for Mental Hygiene and the Care of the Feeble-Minded. Through the years it has changed its name a number of times, eventually settling on the South African Federation for Mental Health in 1990. Since its humble beginnings, SAFMH has played an important role as an advocacy body, promoting community mental health care and deinstitutionalisation and fighting for the rights of persons with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities.
Today, SAFMH is the largest national mental health federation in South Africa, with the national office situated in Johannesburg, and 17 constituent bodies [known as Mental Health Societies] located in all nine provinces.
While SAFMH works at a strategic level with government and other national and international mental health stakeholders and partners to raise awareness of mental health and human rights and to advocate for improved resourcing of mental health, the Mental Health Societies are independent, community-based mental health organisations who deliver essential frontline mental health services to communities that are often under-resourced.
SAFMH is a mental health-focused, human rights organisation, with a 100-year track record of service delivery to South Africans from all walks of life. We pride ourselves on our rich history and the vast pool of experience and expertise from which we have and continue to draw our inspiration and knowledge from.
The Federation’s vision is “to be a dynamic movement, which serves as an effective resource to empower people to attain optimal mental well-being and quality of life in a just society”.
The Federation believes in a service delivery system reflected in an accountable partnership between the Federation and the individual or community. It accepts the uniqueness of each individual and recognises the potential of people.
Its management is responsive and based on participation, mutual trust and respect.
The main objective and central mission of the organisation is: “to work with the community to achieve the highest possible level of mental health for all”. SAFMH stands firmly on a number of pillars:
SAFMH stands firmly on a number of pillars:
Mental health advocacy is an important component of SAFMH’s work and is embedded in everything we do to ensure that the voices of mental health care users are heard, and that they are able to defend and safeguard their rights and have their views and wishes genuinely considered when decisions are being made about their lives. Our mental health advocacy work is aimed at changing the major structural and attitudinal barriers to achieving positive mental health outcomes for everyone in South Africa.
Promoting and protecting the human rights of persons with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities is a fundamental cornerstone of all SAFMH’s work.
Mental health continues to be under-funded and under-resourced compared to other health priorities in South Africa, despite the fact that neuropsychiatric disorders are ranked third in their contribution to the burden of disease in South Africa, after HIV / AIDS and other infectious diseases. There is also enormous inequity between provinces in the distribution of mental health services and resources and a lack of public awareness of mental health and widespread stigma against those who suffer from mental illness. Through our promotion, awareness and training activities, SAFMH aims to reduce stigma and discrimination towards mental health.
SAFMH is a national non-governmental organisation (NGO) registered with the Department of Social Development. As an NGO, the organisation subscribes to the Independent Codes of Good Governance. As a national federation of mental health organisations in South Africa, SAFMH has an obligation to ensure that both SAFMH and its constituent members all adhere to codes of good governance to uphold the values and principles of SAFMH.
For us at SAFMH, when something is relevant, it matters and has value. Through being relevant SAFMH can provide leadership and effectively address mental health issues as and when they occur in a creative and competent manner so as to serve the interests and needs of all persons with psychosocial and intellectual disability.
An important, organisation-wide principle of SAFMH is responsiveness. This pertains to a responding quickly and efficiently to a number of SAFMH’s core functions:
We pride ourselves on being professional and accountable in everything we do. All staff adhere to SAFMH’s financial policies and procedures and ensure healthy budget management of all projects, at all times. We are also committed to effective brand management and the upholding of SAFMH’s reputation throughout all the work we do.
We keep abreast of new developments, technology and innovations and constantly seek to introduce SAFMH to these to see how the organisation could benefit from this. Staff seek and share evidence-based information, innovations, good practice programmes and models (local, national and international) through our online platforms and constantly evaluate where and how such resources might benefit the mental health sector. Through studies, policy briefs and guides produced by SAFMH, the organisation also aims to “keep up” with developments in the mental health and disability sectors.