The Gauteng Health Department ignored dire warnings not to “de-institutionalise” over 1000 psychiatric patients from secure care facilities run by Life Esidimeni. Now 37 patients have died in a few months – and families want answers.
In mid-September it emerged that 36 former Life Esidimeni psychiatric patients have died. These deaths come after the private health care provider’s contract was terminated, resulting in patients being moved to community NGOs in and around Gauteng. In early October another death was confirmed, bringing the death toll to 37.
When the Gauteng Department of Health terminated its contract with private health service provider, Life Esidimeni, hundreds of mentally ill patients were placed in the care of people ill-equipped to look after them.
I don’t trust my psychiatrist. She is a lovely woman, expedient and efficient at her job, and she is the only one of the many specialists that I have consulted who has successfully prescribed medication that does its job.
Deinstitutionalisation. It sounds good: taking mentally ill people out of psychiatric institutions and putting them into community homes or back with their families. But the outcome is seldom positive, as Gauteng patients have discovered.
As the fate of almost 2000 mental health patients set to be booted from a state-funded hospital remains unclear, patient families have vowed to take their fight to the steps of the Gauteng Department of Health.
The Department of Health’s guidelines detail how healthcare workers may use seclusion and physical restraint with mental patients and caution that these actions should be seen as a last resort.
In a country plagued by endemic violence and social inequality, psychologists cannot constrain themselves to the four walls of consulting rooms. To meet the needs of its patients, psychology must rethink its identity and voice in the fight for social justice, writes Garret Barnwell.
For hundreds of murdered South African women, the last face they see is a face they used to love. Almost 60 percent of women murdered annually may die by their partner’s hands but who is counting the women who die by their own hands when violence at home becomes too much, asks Garret Barnwell.