South Africa is in need of psychologists

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For submission to the South African Government to review the current list of Critical Skills in South Africa.

We are asking for your help to get the South African Government to add Clinical, Counselling, Research, Educational and Industrial Psychologists to the critical skills list of South Africa.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as the “complete restoration of physical, mental and social well-being using treatment, care and rehabilitation”. Mental health can be referred to as the promotion of overall health and well-being of an individual. According to the WHO, depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. Depression affects an individual's everyday functioning and quality of life in the home, work and social environment.

According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG):

- About 20% of South Africans will experience at least one depressive episode in their lifetime.

- There are 23 known suicides in South Africa everyday (11% of non natural deaths). That's roughly 8000 deaths per year

- For every person that commits suicide, 10 attempt it.

Depression also has a serious impact on the South African Economy

- R28 billion is attributed to absenteeism (unscheduled absence from work)

- The cost of depression to the country is 42% higher than the value contributed by the tourism industry

 

Over the last decade, mental health awareness campaigns in South Africa have increased. However, there is still a substantial amount of work that needs to be done. Unfortunately, there is still limited information on prevention and treatment of mental health disorders available to local communities, which creates uncertainty within our current health system.

In a study conducted in 2012 by South African psychiatrist Dr Eugene Allers, it was revealed that there were 320 practicing psychiatrists in South Africa, a ratio of about 150,000 people per psychiatrist. Just 15% of the population belonged to a medical aid and 200 of the 320 psychiatrists were working in the private sector. In other words, that leaves a ratio of approximately 33,000 patients per private psychiatrist and about 440,000 people per state psychiatrist. On a positive note, people with mental health disorders can seek treatment. 80-90% of people have a good response to treatment.

In order to improve mental health care in South Africa, we would like to propose the following:

- The Government should include Clinical, Counselling, Research, Educational and Industrial Psychologists in the critical skills list of South Africa. This is to ensure more psychologists in the public sector and to secure funding for psychology students.
- An increase in job opportunities for mental health practitioners including psychologists, psychiatrists, registered counsellors, social workers and psychiatric nurses.
- Mental health hospitals and institutions should be increased in South Africa. These include outpatient mental health facilities, separate inpatient units in general hospital, residential mental health treatment facilities for children or adults as well as psychiatric hospitals.
- Psychological concepts should be included in the school curriculum.



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