Barriers to the participation of people with psychosocial disability in mental health policy development in South Africa : a qualitative study of perspectives of policy makers, professionals, religious leaders and academics

Kleintjes, Sharon ; Lund, Crick ; Swartz, Leslie (2013-03)

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Abstract Background This paper outlines stakeholder views on environmental barriers that prevent people who live with psychosocial disability from participating in mental health policy development in South Africa. Method Fifty-six semi-structured interviews with national, provincial and local South African mental health stakeholders were conducted between August 2006 and August 2009. Respondents included public sector policy makers, professional regulatory council representatives, and representatives from non-profit organisations (NPOs), disabled people’s organisations (DPOs), mental health interest groups, religious organisations, professional associations, universities and research institutions. Results Respondents identified three main environmental barriers to participation in policy development: (a) stigmatization and low priority of mental health, (b) poverty, and (c) ineffective recovery and community supports. Conclusion A number of attitudes, practices and structures undermine the equal participation of South Africans with psychosocial disability in society. A human rights paradigm and multi-system approach is required to enable full social engagement by people with psychosocial disability, including their involvement in policy development.

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