Increase in mental health patients at Helen Joseph as some are unwilling to welcome discharged family members

Gauteng MEC for health Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi says the increase in admissions of mental health patients at Helen Joseph Hospital (HJH) can, among other causes, be attributed to poor socioeconomic circumstances aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Responding to a legislature question, Mokgethi said the hospital has recorded an increase in the number of mental health patients, with some coming from outside the hospital’s feeder area.

She said the increase is due to large-scale use of illegal substances and the unwillingness of some families to take back members with mental health illnesses upon discharge.

Mokgethi said the temporary closure of sections of Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital has also contributed to the increase in the number of patients.

“As at January 2022, HJH had treated 876 patients in the emergency department compared to 80 in January 2021,” said department spokesperson Kwara Kekana. In wards 2 and 3, 1,395 people were treated compared with 620 in 2021, and the outpatient department treated 520 patients compared with 244 by January 2021, Kekana said.

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