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Limpopo mental health patients demand equal rights

Written by Ndivhuwo Musetha

Patients using local mental health services in Limpopo’s Tshiombo village say they deserve to be treated with respect while accessing treatment.

Nurse TV Siphuma said that addressing mental health issues would need a community response. (File photo)

Nurse TV Siphuma said that addressing mental health issues would need a community response. (File photo)

“As mental health-care users, we must be given shelter, have the right to confidentiality… and we have the right to refuse medication unless it is compulsory,” said Richard Nemaguvhuni, who has been a mental health service user since 1997.

“We must not be abused,” he told OurHealth. “We must be updated about progress made in our consultation and we must also have the right to a lawyer.”

Nemaguvhuni spoke at a recent mental health awareness day at the village. He also encouraged patients to adhere to treatment and praised nurses at the local Tshiombo Clinic.

Today, marks World Mental Health Day. It coincides with a month dedicated to raising awareness about the issue.

TV Siphuma is a nurse at Donald Fraser Hospital in Thohoyandou about 40 minutes away from Tshiombo by car. She stressed that mental health required team work – among health professionals and communities.

“Working with mental health users needs teamwork – between nurses, social workers, the community in general, and especially family members,” said Siphuma, speaking at the event. “

Siphuma said it was also important for clinics to work with home-based carers, who were doing a lot to address community needs.

Chief Tovhowani Ratshilumela Mathoho advised community members to accept mental health patients and to treat them with dignity.

About the author

Ndivhuwo Musetha

Ndivhuwo Musetha served an OurHealth Citizen Journalist reporting from Limpopo's Vhembe Health District from 2012 to 2015.