Mental health patient’s deadly attack at Limpopo hospital

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Provincial health spokesperson Neil Shikwambana said an internal investigation had been launched after a mental health patient was strangled by a fellow patient at George Masebe Hospital in Limpopo. Photo: File
Provincial health spokesperson Neil Shikwambana said an internal investigation had been launched after a mental health patient was strangled by a fellow patient at George Masebe Hospital in Limpopo. Photo: File

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A mental healthcare patient at George Masebe Hospital in Mogalakwena, Limpopo, had allegedly been strangled to death by a fellow patient.

The deadly attack had happened in the psychiatric ward during the early hours of Sunday morning.

READ: In-depth | SA’s mental health policy has lapsed, what happens next?

Provincial health spokesperson Neil Shikwambana said an internal investigation had been launched.

The two patients were admitted to the hospital to be stabilised in line with the 72-hour protocol for treating mental healthcare users. Police were also called to the scene and they are conducting their own investigations. Further details will be shared when available.

Limpopo Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba conveyed a message of condolences to the family and friends of the deceased patient.

READ: Adolescent girls’ and young women’s mental health worst hit by Covid-19, SA survey finds

During her budget speech in March, Ramathuba had said that mental health challenges had become another pandemic and the current situation had been worsened by the impact of Covid-19.

“Job losses, fear of infection, isolation/quarantine, loss of loved ones and divorce are some of the factors that have increased the level of depression to a stage where it is now manifesting by the increase in the number of suicide cases and intimate partner violence. It is against this background that as a department, we have adopted a campaign under the theme ‘Be kind to your mind’.”

Mopani and Waterberg had already launched this community approach to assist those struggling with mental health challenges.

She explained:

Our campaign is also focusing on employees operating in stressful environments, like those in the security cluster, police officers, forensic pathologists and our emergency medical services personnel. During a two-week debriefing session with our forensic pathologists done by our clinical psychologists, we were able to identify that some of them had already started to indulge excessively in alcohol.

READ: SA experienced surge in mental health patients during the lockdown – new report

The Health MEC had cautioned that until such time when people treat mental healthcare as a priority like they do other medical conditions, we would continue to tail off as a nation, starting with healthcare providers.

According to the latest Mental State of the World report, South Africa has been identified as the lowest-ranked country based on mental well-being.

READ: Editorial | Mental health crisis: we need to act urgently

The report also revealed how the mental health of younger generations, which grew up in an internet-dominated and inequitable world, had plummeted.


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