by Siviwe Zibi
Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku has officially opened the psychiatric ward at Helen Joseph hospital on Thursday. “It is a sad reality that mental illness continues to be a silent killer of many people that we love and cherish,” said Dr. Masuku.
Helen Joseph refurbishment project takes place as a response to the overall shortage of acute psychiatric beds in Gauteng. The newly upgraded and refurbished psychiatric unit responds to the gender-differentiated needs of mental health users in this hospital. This plan is aimed at re-organising, restructuring and re-enforcing capacity for mental health treatment in the province.
“The Life Esidimeni tragedy alone was enlightenment to the reality of the state of mental health care in Gauteng. There are no words or financial compensation that can reverse the pain and suffering that has come as a result of mismanagement of mental cases in our facilities”.
“As a Gauteng Department of Health over and above adhering to the recommendations by former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, we have made a commitment to ensuring that mental health receives the attention it deserves as a health issue”.
Masuku said mental health remains a priority for them as a department and they are fully committed to ensuring that it is never treated with negligence. They are aware of the differentiated needs of mental health users. Furthermore, the department will also lead a public health literacy campaign that is in part linked to addressing the pressures that are felt by health workers in clinics and hospital due to high numbers of services that are required from the facilities. It will be aimed at providing primary health information for users such as guidelines on how to treat diseases that may not need one to come to the hospital.
The MEC has urged the public to visit their family members regularly when they are admitted in hospitals; it is the responsibility of everyone to ensure that their families do not become the part of the statistics of mental health-related deaths.