July is Psychosocial Disability Awareness month

2016-07-20 06:00

EVERY July is commemorated as Psychosocial Disability Awareness month and this year, together with the South African Federation for Mental Health, Port Elizabeth Mental Health is focused on raising awareness around the issue of stock outs of psychiatric medication, and the negative effects this has on mental health care users.

For many people living with mental disorders or disabilities, access to psychiatric medication is essential for their recovery and enables them to live fully productive lives and function as active members of their community.

When service users want to access medication and remain treatment compliant, but are unable to do so due to medication stock outs at clinics, it becomes a human rights issue that cannot be ignored.

For many service users, having the required access to psychiatric medication is essential to their recovery and to the ongoing management of their conditions.

The availability of psychiatric medication is therefore crucial. Being unable to receive the correct, prescribed medication at clinics, leaves patients in a situation which can result in a deterioration in mental health functioning, and worst case scenario, relapse.

This can have a number of negative and long lasting consequences, such as readmission to inpatient facilities, loss of employment, a breakdown in family or other relationships, poorer quality of life and social isolation.

It may have taken months or even years to reach a point where the individual is stable and able to have a full and functional life, and a relapse negates all the hard work that went into their recovery process.

Robynn Patmore is a mental health service user living with Bipolar Disorder. She has been unable to receive the correct medication due to stock outs, and this has led to relapse and hospitalization.

“The clinic I always received my medication from ran out of Convalex, which is a very good mood stabiliser for me. And then suddenly the clinic ran out of the Convalex, and the nurses just said they didn’t know when it would come back in stock. The psychiatrist put me on Lamaxil instead, and it made me so sick that I actually relapsed and spent four months in hospital.”

The National Mental Health Policy Framework stipulates that all psychiatric medication must be available at all levels of care.

This however does not reflect the reality as stock outs of psychiatric medication is a problem that many mental health service users face on a regular basis.

Members of the public are encouraged to report any medication stock outs to The Stop Stock Outs Campaign, as well as The Mental Health Watch Reporting System.

For more info go towww.stockouts.org.


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