Mental Health Matters is published five times a year with the objective of bringing information and support to South Africa’s GP’s in their role as first line care givers and identifiers of mental health issues.


The article “Will my medical expenses be paid if I become suicidal” by Ina Skosana and Joan Van Dyk (Mail & Guardian Newspaper, 20 APR 2017) tells of the painful experience of Trish and Katlego who both suffer from chronic, severe mental illness.
The article refers to the Prescribed Minimum Benefits (PMB’s) for mental health- the benefits that medical aid schemes will pay for out of ‘risk’ for people with mental disorders (in other words, what the medical schemes will pay outside of any savings plan). The debate about the benefits for mental illness is particularly relevant at this time.s.

A Sweidan

The role of Mental Health Review Boards (MHRBs) is in the spotlight after over 100
mentally ill patients died in Gauteng. They were transferred from Life Esidimeni to various unregistered NGOs. The investigation into the incident found this tragedy points not to a once off incident, but the culmination of a systemic issue that researchers, clinicians and NGOs have been underlining for years. But the crisis presents an opportunity for reform, not only in Gauteng but across the country. From the ashes comes the chance to unpick what went wrong, and the hope that greater commitment from government, and greater involvement from mental health professionals and communities will allow the ambitions of the Mental Health Care Act 2002 to be invoked in daily mental health practices.

T Taylor

The first-ever randomized controlled clinical trial to test a dietary intervention as a treatment for clinical depression has just been published. I am Dr Drew Ramsey. I am
assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University in New York City, and I am reporting for Medscape Psychiatry. I am excited to share the results of this very interesting study with you.

D Ramsey

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a well-known, if controversial disorder. Prior to DSM-5, ADHD was seen as one of the Disruptive Behaviour Disorders (DBDs), the other two being Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder. DSM-5 now classifies ADHD as a NEURODEVELOPMENTAL DISORDER and I think that this change is correct and important. ADHD is actually a reflection of a degree of neurological immaturity and not ‘just a behavioural disorder’. Likewise, I will argue that Sensory Integration Disorders are also due to a neurological immaturity.

D Benn

It has to be every parent’s worst nightmare. Being held at gunpoint in front of your two children. It certainly was mine. It took just a few minutes one evening, outside our home. Two armed men. Two cars. An unknown number of people inside those vehicles. The next few moments were surreal. One gun in front of my face. At some point, one of the weapons was waved in the direction of my children.

By F Korb

Schizophrenia is a brain disease that makes it difficult to distinguish between what’s
real and unreal to think clearly, manage emotions, relate to others and function normally. While schizophrenia is a chronic condition, it doesn’t mean there’s no hope – schizophrenia can be successfully managed. The first step is to recognise the signs and symptoms. The second step is to seek help without delay.

H Smith

Her husband (A) took her to casualty, where she was admitted after N refused to eat and spent part of that afternoon sitting on her bed. She wasn’t making sense when talking and not answering when spoken to.
According to her husband, N was taking an over- the-counter product bought at the local pharmacy and drinking excessive amounts of water with the purpose of losing weight. N wanted to look slimmer at her younger sister’s wedding the
following month.
Her husband denied N had any substance abuse history or eating disorder symptoms. He assured doctors the present episode was the first of its kind.

A Vaccari

Being human means you will experience sorrow and grief at some point in your life. No one can escape this cycle and fact of life. This reality doesn’t take away the pain and suffering. The opposite of loss is attachment – a natural genetically programmed human phenomenon to connect deeply to another in order to enrich lives and give meaning. For a child a secure loving attachment provides him with strength, resilience and a sense of safety. This becomes the building block to explore his world with greater ease. When a child has lost a significant caregiver like a parent, the loss can shatter his world and the pain can be unbearable.

J Kleovoulou

Prevalence of Adult Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse
Without focusing here on the equally tragic circumstances of adult female survivors of
childhood sexual abuse, circumstances of adult males sexually abused as children are higher than most would expect. Prevalence rates for adult males who were inappropriately touched or sexually abused before 18 years in South Africa are commonly held at 1 in 6 young boys (17%). However, these rates often appear inconsistent, expanding to 1 in 5 (20%), to 1 in 3 (33%) in a massive 2016 University of Cape/Optimus Programme study, to 2 in 5 (44%) in a 2016/2017 exhaustive study
by Ari Ho-Foster, conducted in several national languages across South Africa, relating to male childhood sexual abuse and the spread of HIV/AIDS.

CM Traub

Prison isn’t a good place to be. Not only is your freedom taken away, but there are plenty of inherent dangers, ranging from gangster activities, assaults, rape, poor living conditions and other health risks. Clearly there are some considerable mental health issues involved.

J Chabalala

Gender-based violence (GBV), including sexual assault, rape and domestic violence, is a pervasive global problem. It’s estimated 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence
by a non-partner at some point in their lives.1 In South Africa, violence against women and children, especially in rural areas and in informal settlements is a way of life and an accepted social phenomenon.

B Carthy

Katlego Badimo sits quietly on the white leather couch in his lounge. Resting his elbows on his knees he stares out of the window. It is a warm autumn day in Johannesburg – a far cry from his late teens and earlier 20s. Then every day felt like winter. Now aged 24, Badimo recalls how he struggled with depression through most of his high school years. “It subsided a little and then got bad again when I was in second year at university,” he remembers. In 2013, when he was 20 years old, Badimo’s GP recommended that he see a psychiatrist, as he wasn’t getting better.

I Skosana and J van Dyk

Research in South Africa on mental health, especially Bipolar Disorder (BD), is scarce, with most statistics related to the illness originating from international sources. A 2006 study in the Western Cape reported an annual prevalence estimate for BD of 1%. Although this study is now over 10 years old and has its limitations, it likely provides a closer estimate of the portion of the South African population affected by this condition than international statistics

D Tzoneva

I was given antidepressants when I was in grade 10, although undiagnosed with depression at this time. This was the year my depression manifested into a complete rejection of any food, and I was told that due to a recent family tragedy, I was suffering from PTSD with “bulimic tendencies”. This diagnosis was incorrect. For the remainder of my sixteenth year, and well into grade 11, I saw a therapist weekly who consoled me about my issues with food, my struggles with dealing with trauma, and my general mood.

M Short

Zane Wilson Founder SADAG

  • Neil Amoore,
  • Psychologist, Johannesburg
  • Kevin Bolon,
  • Psychologist, Johannesburg
  • Dr Jan Chabalala,
  • Psychiatrist, Johannesburg
  • Dr Lori Eddy,
  • Psychologist, Johannesburg
  • Lee-Ann Hartman,
  • Psychologist, Johannesburg
  • Dr Frans Korb,
  • Psychiatrist/Psychologist, Johannesburg
  • Professor Crick Lund,
  • Psychiatrist, Cape Town
  • Dr Rykie Liebenberg,
  • Psychiatrist, Johannesburg
  • Dr Colinda Linde,
  • Psychologist, Johannesburg
  • Zamo Mbele,
  • Psychologist, Johannesburg
  • Nkini Phasha,
  • SADAG Director, Johannesburg
  • David Rosenstein,
  • Psychologist, Cape Town
  • Professor Dan Stein,
  • Psychiatrist, Cape Town
  • Professor Bernard van Rensburg,
  • Johannesburg
  • Dr Sheldon Zilesnick,
  • Psychiatrist, Johannesburg