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Destigmatising mental health

Gauteng Premier David Makhura says it's time for mental health to be regarded as an integral part of overall individual health and wellbeing.

The Premier said this on Tuesday as the world observes World Mental Health Day. The day is observed annually on 10 October.

The right to mental health requires care and support facilities, services that are available, accessible, acceptable and of good quality. Rights-based care and support for mental health is an integral part of health care for all, said Premier Makhura.

In the wake of the tragic loss of life that befell mental health patients in the province when they were moved from Life Esidimeni to NGO facilities, the Gauteng government has set up an arbitration process, as per the Health Ombuds recommendation, led by the retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke.

The arbitration process commenced on Monday and will run until 30 October at Emoyeni Conference Centre in Johannesburg.

The primary role of the arbitrator will be to give a proper hearing to the State and the claimant families. He will listen to evidence, including expert evidence on any relevant matters. He will make a binding award of compensation that in all circumstances would be just and equitable.

The arbitration process forms part of the provincial government's commitment to restore the dignity and human rights of mental health patients and all vulnerable groups in Gauteng.

At the beginning of this month, Premier Makhura and Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa signed a Mental Health Pledge reinforcing their commitment to mental healthcare.

Mental Health Pledge

We, the people of Gauteng, recognise the tragedy which befell the mental health patients of our province.

We pledge to stand up against the stigmatisation of mental health, educate the public on mental health and its various forms of discrimination.

We pledge to be leaders, in both our personal and professional life, and to work together to promote Mental Health Rights, Break the Stigma and Break the Silence.

We pledge to take proactive steps to ensure that not in our name and not under our watch will mental health be over looked or taken for granted.

We do all of this with the steadfast belief that for as long as we are alive.

Mental health will remain the cornerstone of its people's health.

We pledge to break the silence and put mental health firmly on the agenda of the health system.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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