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KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), the second most populous province in South Africa, has a population of ±10million people: 87% are Black African; 80% rely on public health services; 25% are school learners; and over 50% stay in rural and/or peri-urban informal settlements. A third of the population resides in the eThekwini (Durban) district in KZN.
KZN is also the global epicenter of the HIV epidemic, with a huge burden of unemployment, poverty, tuberculosis and substance abuse. Yet, there is a dearth of community-based mental health services in close proximity to where people live. KZN has a 75% deficit of the number of psychiatric beds and full-time psychiatrists required to comply with national norms. These are compounded by inequitable funding for mental health. Unsurprisingly, a World Health Organization (WHO) report paints a grim picture of the status of our public mental health system. A recent study also found that the second highest number of calls to a national mental health helpline in 2017 came from KwaZulu-Natal.
To create a province where every community and individual is supported towards achieving and maintaining optimal mental health and where all those affected by mental illness are holistically supported in their journey of recovery.
To run a sustainable satellite office of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) in the eThekwini district of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), that becomes the flagship center of excellence and innovation in mental health promotion, education, support services and advocacy.
To achieve the above vision and mission, specific objectives were initially prioritized for the first three years.
Our objectives for year 1 included:
- Acquire a physical office space from which to operate
- Acquire capital investment from donors for initial office setup
- Acquire funding to employ a part-time office manager for at least a 12-month period
- Train an initial cohort of support group leaders to setup community support groups for depression and anxiety
- Have a strategic plan for the rollout of school-, workplace- and community-based mental health promotion activities
Over and above our need to remain financially sustainable and cover operational expenses, our objectives for year 2, include:
- Set up an ongoing mental health programme
- Design and implement community interventions
- Conduct research and evaluation
Our objectives for year 3 include sustaining and scaling up the above objectives in a consistent, meaningful and impactful manner.
In pursuit of the above objectives, the following organizations have positively responded to our invitation to collaborate and become a strategic partner to SADAG, by offering some form of support.
Financial support has been received from the following organizations:
- The South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP)
- the Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA)
- KZN Mental Health Advocacy Group
The offices are based in Life St Joseph’s Hospital in Durban and are managed by Lynn Norton.
Strategic partnerships have been set up with up with the following organizations who are collaborating on our psychosocial programmes:
- University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN)
- Suryan Leadership Institute
- Student Society for Psychology (SSP)
- Durban Practicing Psychologists’ Group (DPPG)
- KZN Department of Basic Education
- KZN Department of Health
- eThekwini District Health Office
- South African Society for Clinical Psychologists
- Occupational Therapy Mental Health Interest Group (OT-MhIG)
- Caxton Media
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