The Mental Health Care Act: Stakeholder compliance with respect to Section 40 of the Act.

Greg Wayne Jonsson, Yusuf Moosa, Fatima Jeenah


Objective. To determine compliance with Section 40 (1-3) of the Mental Health Care Act (MHCA) No 17 of 2002, viz. handing over custody by the South African Police Service (SAPS) of suspected mentally ill patients to medical services at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital (CHBH).

Methods. The study was a retrospective record review of patients who were 18 years and older, referred by SAPS to CHBH. In accordance with Section 40 of the MHCA, a MHCA form 22 is completed when suspected mentally ill patients are handed over by SAPS to the medical services. MHCA forms 22 that were completed during the period July 2007 to December 2007 were obtained from hospital records and analysed to determine the compliance of SAPS and medical practitioners in completing them.

Results. During the study period, 708 of the 718 patients handed over by SAPS to the Emergency Department of CHBH were entered on MHCA forms 22. SAPS officials had correctly completed 86% of the forms, whereas the medical practitioners had only correctly completed 9.9% of the forms. Of the 718 patients handed over by SAPS, 319 (44%) were discharged for outpatient care.

Conclusion. The findings of this study suggest that not all parties fully comply with Section 40 of the Mental Health Care Act No 17 of 2002. We suggest that the situation can be improved by training of all parties; amendments to the MHCA form 22; partnership between mental health care practitioners and members of SAPS; and combining resources towards implementing a crisis intervention model similar to that in other countries.


Mental Health care act; south african police services; mental health care users

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Submitted: 17 January 2009
Published: 01 June 2009

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