Ensure children with mental healthcare disorders/disabilities rights are upheld.

Ensure children with mental healthcare disorders/disabilities rights are upheld.

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Petition to
South African Human Rights Commission, Constitutional Court, Department of Social Services,

Why this petition matters

Started by Chantel Robson

The human rights of special needs children have gone unnoticed by many decision makers in our country. As a mother to a special needs child i find it appalling that my sons basic human right to education, healthcare and social support has been grossly infringed upon.

For children like my son,

  • early diagnosis,treatment and management of their conditions is delayed as healthcare providers aren't adequately trained to diagnose mental healthcare  disorders and professionals in this field is scarce. What I find most disturbing is that the National Mental Health Policy framework and strategic plan  2013-2020 for South Africa has still not been implemented in majority of the provinces, doesn't address issues pertaining child and adolocent mental healthcare issues and has not been reviewed. Most frightening is that there are almost no indicators monitoring mental healthcare in healthcare facilities.
  • There are very few special needs schools that cater for children with mental healthcare disorders and even fewer  trained educators available in the country. Independent schools are expensive and government funded schools non inclusive,dilapidated and have long waiting lists. My son is currently number 250 on a waiting list at a governement funded special needs school that only takes two children per year, meaning he will start gradeR in 125 years as there aren't ECD facilities that cater for mental healthcare disorder  special needs children. 
  • In terms of social support  application for special needs grant aren't assessed on a case specific basis but on the basis of the primary  caregivers income.

I believe that if these three main points are addressed  for children with mental healthcare needs disorders we will as a country :

  • Ensure that there is child and adolocent specific mental healthcare  programmes developed that is monitored and evaluated and improved upon regularly 
  • Early diagnosis, treatment and management of mental healthcare disorders in children and adolescents . It is already common practice in this country that mental healthcare conditions and disorders are diagnosed in adulthood when the conditions and healthcare of patients have deteriorated and exacerbated as opposed to the onset which is during  early childhood.
  • Better support the parents of special needs children as the children are solely dependent on the parents and if there is no support albeit it psychological, financial or advisory the wellbeing of the special needs child ultimately  is affected.
  • Ensure that children with special needs have equal access to social support services. Each case or grant application cannot be assessed on the basis of income instead of the monthly expenses associated with the care of the child. It is baffling that the expenses associated with the care of a special needs child is not taken into account.

I believe that I share the fears and concerns of many parents to children with special needs in the country. Our  children are deserving of the enjoyment  of their basic human right to:

  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Social services

As parents and special needs citizens of South Africa i think we deserve answers from the relevant statutory bodies in this country regarding the few but pertinent issues raised in this petition, or are are children and special needs individuals not deserving of having their basic human rights granted ? Do we not deserve the comfort and assurance of knowing as special needs parents that should we no longer be around our children will be cared for or are we to prepare for when it will be our turn to go through what so many families painfully did with the Life Esidimeni inquest. Right now as a parent I am realizing that if nothing is done now the next inquest will be that of the violation of the rights of special needs little boys and girls.

As someone who has just read this petition are you willing to help bring about this change?

My sincere hope is that you are willing to assist.


60 have signed. Let’s get to 100!