The 2022 World Mental Health Report found that 970 million people living with mental disorders globally in 2019, including 14% of the world’s adolescents. Suicide is the fourth-highest cause of death among 15- to 29-year-olds, and 82% of people with mental disorders reside in low- and middle-income countries. South Africa’s history of apartheid, including its migrant labour models, has harmed women’s and children’s mental health, leading to absent fathers and child-headed households. Mental health services in South Africa are inadequate, both in the public and private sector.
Mental health in South Africa is unacceptably low, with only 27% receiving treatment.
Community-based care is the frontline defence of any healthcare system, and South Africa must find the will and financial wherewithal to strengthen care at the community level. There is a shortage of mental health specialists, and poorer areas struggle to access healthcare due to socio-economic reasons.