Mental health admissions skyrocket at Helen Joseph Hospital

Helen Joseph Hospital is experiencing a surge in mental health patients, Gauteng health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi said on Wednesday, noting that some of the patients are from outside the hospital’s feeder area.

Provincial health department statistics show that 876 patients were treated in the facility’s emergency department in January, compared with 80 in 2021. Figures also indicate that about 1 400 patients were treated in general wards in January, an increase of 775 patients from the 620 treated in 2021.

Mokgethi attributed the increase in admissions to poor socio-economic circumstances that were aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic, large scale use of illegal substances, and the unwillingness of families to support people with mental health issues upon discharge.

“The temporary closure of sections at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital also contributed to the increase [in admissions],” said Mokgethi.

She shared that Helen Josephs is preparing various measures to ensure the provision of care for the growing number of mental health patients. These include a increase of bed capacity, as well as repurposing a temporary structure to house more patients.

“The hospital is also liaising with other psychiatric wards in other facilities to transfer patients whenever there is capacity.”

The MEC pleaded with families to take back their relatives upon discharge from health facilities.

She said: “We are making efforts to ensure that the psychiatric wards across our health facilities meet the standards and regulations of the Mental Health Care Act. The wellness of mental health patients is our top priority, thus the installation of the 24-hour security cameras to monitor and ensure patient safety.”


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