Holes in South Africa's System

South African law allows mental health patients to be admitted to designated hospitals for 72 hours of assessment and to determine treatment.

But when patients are volatile, getting them there poses a major challenge.

The family of a schizophrenic patient found medical services unable to restrain or medicate him so he could safely reach a facility. While police are required to intervene when mental health patients are violent, many aren’t adequately trained to do so.

Once patients reach facilities, bed shortages force health workers to bend the rules and put mental health patients in different wards. Many wards also do not meet safety criteria—such as bolted-down furniture and panic buttons. 


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