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.


Psychologists have always faced many challenges. Often we have to justify the legitimacy of the field amidst other Healthcare Professionals. Universities themselves have difficulty with placing Psychology. The field integrates knowledge from many areas. Hence it’s often difficult to decide whether the discipline should be located in the Health Sciences, Social Sciences, Humanities, Commerce or Education. Psychology by virtue of its relationship with the mind-behaviour environment interaction influences every aspect of life.

S Laher

Three out of four South Africans suffering from Chronic Mental Illness will not receive sufficient treatment and 82% of all South Africans are not members of medical aid schemes. In Dieplsoot an estimated 200 000 – 300 000 people, live in over 70 000 households in an area on the margins of Johannesburg and Tswane with a lack of resources, coupled with problems ranging from Chronic Mental Disorders (e.g. Schizophrenia); high levels of Gender-based Violence; Substance Abuse and Legal difficulties. Diepsloot is a massively under-resourced and overcrowded community. How could South Africa’s largest mental health NGO, SADAG, make an impact here?

B Dworzanowski-Venter

Mania can feel good when it starts. Patients might feel very creative, have lots of energy, feel very happy, and get excited about new hobbies. But when this high mood gets out of control they may turn aggressive and do harmful things.

R Williams

Before his death from Alzheimer’s on the 12 March 2015, author Terry Pratchett described Dementia in the following way, comparing it to cancer after a discussion he’d had with his father, who was terminal at the time: “Dementia in its varied forms is not like cancer. Dad saw the cancer in his pancreas as an invader. But Alzheimer’s is me, unwinding, losing trust in myself, a butt of my own jokes and on bad days capable of playing hunt the slipper by myself and losing. You can’t battle it; you can’t be a plucky ‘survivor’. It steals you from yourself.”

G Ure

Epilepsy is more commonly known as ‘fits’. It has been described as shaking, falling to the ground, sometimes frothing and having to be held down and needing to put a spoon in the mouth to prevent the tongue from being bitten off. In 2017 an article in The Citizen cited that “Epilepsy is a disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed, causing seizures or periods of unusual behaviour, sensations and sometimes loss of consciousness”.

D Pema

Mrs. Smith’s fourth-grade learners assemble in small groups to work on a project. She’s asked Kevin and Julie to join three other learners. A mother of another little girl, who has been helping to supervise the project notices Kevin is better behaved than he was during her last visit to the class. While he still wriggles in his seat and occasionally interrupts a classmate, he doesn’t pound his desk with both hands and talk loudly non-stop like he used to. He’s also much more co-operative and smiles now. Julie is her usual chatty, polite self. She smiles and gestures with her hands as she talks to the other learners in the group. Today however, the other girls in the group seem annoyed with Julie. When the group session is over, Kevin sits attentively at his desk at the front of the classroom. Julie’s smile has faded and she stares out the window.

S Pather

The last few decades have seen numerous advances in the neuroscientific understanding of Schizophrenia. This complex Neuro-developmental Disorder is understood to have a multi-factorial etiology, with strong genetic and neurodevelopmental contributors.

Brief overview of Schizophrenia
Patients with Schizophrenia commonly present with a combination of so-called positive symptoms (hallucinations and delusions), negative symptoms (lack of motivation, reduced speech and social withdrawal) and cognitive symptoms.

UA Botha

Despite being common, Depression often goes undetected and untreated by Medical Professionals. Only about half of individuals with Major Depression are identified by their GP. Studies have shown the diagnosis of Depression in primary care has a sensitivity of approximately 50% and specificity of 81%. GPs may be good at ruling out those who don’t have Depression, but may need to be more cautious in considering cases where Depression may be present. Depression results from a complex interaction of processes across a biopsychosocial continuum. Certain factors have been linked to precipitating episodes of Depression.

K Armstrong

The use of substances (drugs) among women of child bearing age is growing. In the United States, women make up 40% of the lifetime prevalence rates for drug use disorders. Women are also at highest risk for developing a Substance Use Disorder during their reproductive years (18–44), especially ages 18–29. The use of substances not only has negative outcomes for the unborn foetus, but also the mother herself. Pregnant women with Substance Use Disorders are less likely to seek antenatal care and have higher rates of infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis, and other sexually transmitted infections. Substance use is also often associated with other Co-morbid Psychiatric Disorders. This makes it important for healthcare professionals to identify substance use early in pregnancy.

L Lumu

According to John March (2007) one in every 200 children and/or teenagers suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). They suffer from intrusive unwanted thoughts, images and/or urges (Obsessions) they often know are irrational beliefs but cause significant Anxiety forcing them into carrying out repetitive bizarre behaviours and/or mental rituals (Compulsions). These obsessions and compulsions can cause significant distress and impair their daily functioning.

S Friedland

Apatient walks into a GP’s office; a teenage boy. He’s accompanied by his mother. The mother informs the GP that he has a longstanding asthma diagnosis, and complains that it’s been acting up in the last six months – her son frequently has trouble breathing, and he’s had weekly severe asthma attacks that have required the use of a nebuliser. The boy remains silent while his mother talks for him. The GP conducts his examination and finds nothing outside of the boy’s known medical history to suggest a recent exacerbation in symptoms. He prescribes a new medication, and suggests different management techniques.

C Kemp

Stigma can broadly be described as the shame or disgrace with which people
and society may place on a condition or on a set of conditions. Mental Illnesses in general tend to attract a lot of shame for reasons that could range from cultural to vanity and prestige. While diseases such as Schizophrenia and Psychosis are stigmatised in certain cultures because of beliefs relating to curses and witchcraft, others like Depression often attract shameful probes into people’s lives and their perceived life problems.

MI Matloga

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