Overview of mental health: A public health priority

M Matlala, M L Maponya, A K Chigome, Hannelie (JC) Meyer


Mental health is an integral part of health and it includes an individual’s emotional, psychological and social well-being. However, mental health disorders remain underreported and underdiagnosed, particularly in low- and medium-income countries, including South Africa. South Africa carries a huge burden of mental illnesses with the most prevalent being depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse disorders and mood disorders. People with mental health conditions often face neglect in the healthcare system as well as stigma and discrimination. This has resulted in poor health outcomes, isolation and high suicide rates. In 2013, the South African government adopted the National Mental Health Policy Framework and Strategic Plan in an effort to integrate mental health into its health system and to reduce the mental health treatment gap and burden. This review aims to describe the prevalence, consequences and management of mental health disorders in South Africa, the incidental consequences of mental disorders, as well as the role of pharmacists in mental health.


Mental health disorders; depression; bipolar disorder; anxiety disorders; stigma; suicide; management of mental disorders

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