THE South Coast Mental Association was formed this year after Fecility Govender saw a desperate need for such a forum.
She takes care of mentally ill people at The Care Centre in Hibberdene, which has been running since 2000.
It was initially a retirement home, but since there are two other facilities of the same kind within a 50km radius, Govender could not obtain the necessary registration number to operate.
While caring for the elderly, she noticed there was a serious lack of awareness, education and public facilities that dealt with mental health and decided to focus on that need.
“There are no facilities to cater for these patients, besides a few government hospitals. They are given medication, some counselling, then sent home and left to their own devices.
“I have a patient at the care centre who was at a hospital in Umzimkhulu for six months. She only saw a psychiatrist once during the time. So there really was no point in her staying at the hospital.”
Govender has seen many cases where a patient is sent home from hospital with medication, but there is nobody to supervise or administer it.
“This is mainly because of the lack of education. Parents, care givers and neighbours don’t know what they are dealing with,” she said.
Despite the service Govender provides, she is still battling to get a registration number from the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health.
“I first have to employ a full-time nurse, but I don’t have the funds for this. I am providing a much-needed service to the public and if the department [of health] could provide and pay for a nurse, my patients and I would be most grateful. There are so many mentally ill people who need help, but they don’t have the money.”
Local psychiatrist, Dr Omar Habib, who has a practice in Port Shepstone, said Govender’s initiative to start such a forum and facility was most welcome as the public sector was neglected in this regard.
“We don’t have psychosocial services and proper rehabilitation facilities for the public. Everything is private,” said Habib.
“I hope the health department assists this initiative with as little red tape as possible.”
The KZN Department of Health was approached for comment, but none was forthcoming at the time of going to press.