A review of the applications for involuntary admissions made to the Mental Health Review Boards by institutions in Gauteng in 2008

M Y H Moosa, F Y Jeenah


Aim. To review applications for involuntary admissions made to the Mental Health Review Boards (MHRBs) by institutions in Gauteng.

Method. A retrospective review of the register/database of the two review boards in Gauteng for the period January - December 2008. All applications for admissions (involuntary and assisted inpatient) and outpatient care (involuntary and assisted), and periodic reports for continued care (inpatient or outpatient care) were included.

Results. During the study period the two MHRBs received a total of 3 803 applications for inpatient care, of which 2 526 were for assisted inpatient care (48.1% regional hospitals, 29.6% specialised psychiatric hospitals, 22.2% tertiary academic hospitals). Of the applications for involuntary inpatient care, 73.1% were from the specialised psychiatric hospitals (65.2% from Sterkfontein Hospital). Applications for outpatient care, treatment and rehabilitation (CTR) numbered 1 226 (92% assisted outpatient CTR). Although the health establishments in northern Gauteng applied for more outpatient CTR compared with those in southern Gauteng (879 v. 347, respectively), the ratios of assisted to involuntary outpatient applications for CTR for each region were similar (approximately 12:1 and 9:1, respectively). The boards received 3 805 periodic reports for prolonged CTR (93.5% inpatient, 6.5% outpatient), in the majority of cases for assisted CTR.

Conclusion. The study suggests that in the 4 years since the promulgation of the MHCA in 2004 , there have been significant strides towards implementation of the procedures relating to involuntary admission and CTR by all stakeholders. Differences in levels of implementation by the various stakeholders may result from differences in knowledge, perceptions, attitudes and understanding of their roles and therefore indicate the need for education of mental health care professionals and the public on a massive scale. The Department of Health also needs to invest more funds to improve mental health human resources and infrastructure at all health establishments.


Epidimiology; mental health care act; involuntary admissions

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v16i4.254

Submitted: 12 April 2010
Published: 01 December 2010

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