Community mental health services in Southern Gauteng: An audit using Gauteng District Health Information Systems data

Lesley J. Robertson, Christopher P. Szabo


Background: Community mental health services (CMHS) are a central objective of the National Mental Health Policy Framework and Strategic Plan. Three core components are described: residential facilities, day care and outpatient services. Primary mental health care with specialist support is required according to an intervention pyramid. Staffing norms provide for a minimum mental health service coverage of 2.7% of the population for adults and 1.5% for children and adolescents.

Aim: The aim of this study was to describe the existing CMHS in Southern Gauteng in terms of the National Mental Health Policy.

Methods: The CMHS of the City of Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Sedibeng and West Rand districts were studied. Information regarding service organisation and staffing was obtained via the Gauteng Directorate of Mental Health. Routinely collected District Health Information Systems data for the 2014/2015 year were analysed.

Results: The organisation of services was not consistent with that recommended by the Mental Health Policy, and specialist CMHS were inappropriately situated within primary care. Only 2.23% of clinic visits were for mental health, and 80% of these were at specialist CMHS. Overall mental health coverage was approximately 0.3% of the population for adults and 0.02% for children and adolescents. Staffing, residential facilities and day care were far below the cited norms for minimal cover.

Conclusion: Our audit revealed that the CMHS in Southern Gauteng did not meet any of the norms cited by the Mental Health Policy. Barriers to implementation of this aspect of the Mental Health Policy need to be explored.


Community Mental Health; Mental Health Policy

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Submitted: 07 September 2016
Published: 05 July 2017

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South African Journal of Psychiatry    |    ISSN: 1608-9685 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2078-6786 (ONLINE)