The South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP) and SASOP State Employed Special Interest Group (SESIG) position statements on psychiatric care in the public sector

Bernard Janse van Rensburg
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 18, No 3 | a374 | DOI: | © 2012 Bernard Janse van Rensburg | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 July 2012 | Published: 01 August 2012

About the author(s)

Bernard Janse van Rensburg, South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP), South Africa


Executive summary. National mental health policy: SASOP extends its support for the process of formalising a national mental health policy as well as for the principles and content of the current draft policy.

Psychiatry and mental health: psychiatrists should play a central role, along with the other mental health disciplines, in the strategic and operational planning of mental health services at local, provincial and national level.

Infrastructure and human resources: it is essential that the state takes up its responsibility to provide adequate structures, systems and funds for the specified services and facilities on national, provincial and facility level, as a matter of urgency.

Standard treatment guidelines (STGs) and essential drug lists (EDLs): close collaboration and co-ordination should occur between the processes of establishing SASOP and national treatment guidelines, as well as the related decisions on EDLs for different levels.

HIV/AIDS in children: national HIV programmes have to promote awareness of the neurocognitive problems and psychiatric morbidity associated with HIV in children.

HIV/AIDS in adults: the need for routine screening of all HIV-positive individuals for mental health and cognitive impairments should also be emphasised as many adult patients have a mental illness, either before or as a consequence of HIV infection, constituting a ‘special needs’ group.

Substance abuse and addiction: the adequate diagnosis and management of related substance abuse and addiction problems should fall within the domain of the health sector and, in particular, that of mental health and psychiatry.

Community psychiatry and referral levels: the rendering of ambulatory specialist psychiatric services on a community-centred basis should be regarded as a key strategy to make these services more accessible to users closer to where they live.

Recovery and re-integration: a recovery framework such that personal recovery outcomes, among others, become the universal goals by which we measure service provision, should be adopted as soon as possible.

Culture, mental health and psychiatry: culture, religion and spirituality should be considered in the current approach to the local practice and training of specialist psychiatry, within the professional and ethical scope of the discipline.

Forensic psychiatry: an important and significant field within the scope of state-employed psychiatrists, with 3 recognised groups of patients (persons referred for forensic psychiatric observation, state patients, and mentally ill prisoners), each with specific needs, problems and possible solutions.

Security in psychiatric hospitals and units: it is necessary to protect public sector mental healthcare practitioners from assault and injury as a result of performing their clinical duties by, among others, ensuring that adequate security procedures are implemented, appropriate for the level of care required, and that appointed security staff members are appropriately trained and equipped.


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