Lessons from the past : historical perspectives of mental health in the Eastern Cape
CITATION: Sukeri, K., Alonso-Betancourt, O. & Emsley, R. 2014. Lessons from the past: historical perspectives of mental health in the Eastern Cape. South African Journal of Psychiatry, 20(2):34-39, doi:10.7196/SAJP.568.
The original publication is available at http://www.sajp.org.za
The development of mental health services in the Eastern Cape Province is inextricably entwined in South Africa’s colonial history and the racist policy of apartheid. Prior to the development of mental hospitals, mental health services were provided through a network of public and mission hospitals. This paper explores the development of early hospital and mental health services in the Eastern Cape from the time of the Cape Colony to the dissolution of apartheid in 1994, and highlights the influence of colonialism, race and legislation in the development of mental health services in this province. The objective is to provide a background of mental health services in order to identify the historical factors that have had an impact on the current shortcomings in the provision of public sector mental health services in the province. This information will assist in the future planning and development of a new service for the province without the stigma of the past. This research indicates that one lesson from the past should be the equitable distribution of resources for the provision of care for all that inhabit this province, as enshrined in South Africa’s constitution.