The following document outlines an update on the developments of the Rural Mental Health Campaign (RMHC). The update includes the objectives of the campaign, what specific changes is the RMHC seeking, some of the advocacy tools that the campaign will be using, our timeline and who our specific target audience is.
On the 21st of September 2014, a preliminary workshop was held at this year’s Rural Health Conference in Worcester on developing a rural mental health advocacy campaign in response to the rural mental healthcare gap in South Africa. Several organisations and healthcare workers discussed the current gap in access, availability and lack of prioritization. The workshop marks the creation of the RMHC, which aims to achieve the following objectives:
1. To raise awareness about the crisis in rural mental health.
2. To enhance the rate of implementation of the National Mental Health Policy Framework and Strategic Plan 2013 – 2020 at the provincial and district level through advocacy.
3. To address the mental health competencies and the current human resources gap in rural mental health
4. To promote community and mental health service user’s engagement with rural mental health issues.
What specific changes are we seeking?
1. The promotion of best practice models in rural public mental health by public mental health stakeholders
2. The National Mental Health Policy Framework and Strategic Plan 2013 – 2020 is prioritized and implemented at provincial and district level
3. The development of mental health competencies for healthcare workers in rural health settings are enhanced (specifically at the primary care level)
4. Models are implemented by the Department of Health that address the human resource gap in rural mental health (specifically at the primary care level)
5. The “voice” of mental health service users, their families and communities are heard in the management of public rural mental health
6. There is an increase in understanding of rural mental health in the public domain.
Who are we trying to reach?
Department of Health, District Mental Health Teams, Health Care Workers
Rural mental healthcare service users and people without access to rural mental healthcare services.
Mental health stakeholders
Advocacy: Mental Health User Voices “Real People Real Stories”
The first phase of the campaign will consist of a public advocacy campaign that contextualizes the current state of rural mental health. The campaign will be tied to the above objectives of the RMHC and will focus on mental health services users and families “voices”.
A call for potential interviews: At the end of January the RMHC will reach out to mental health stakeholders for support in assisting the campaign to identify people whose narratives shed light on the current state of rural mental health.
The value of narratives is the description of people’s experience of living with mental illness and the impact on their quality of life. Through the narratives the RMHC hopes “to highlight the impact of delayed, untreated or inadequately treated mental illness in rural health settings.” Therefore these narratives need to be tied to the burden of the illness socially, financially and psychologically.
The Task Team will be working on building profiles and a checklist to guide stakeholders in identifying and involving mental health care users and health care workers in the campaign. This checklist will be made available at the end of January 2015 and the call for narratives officially initiated.
5 Districts will be identified in January when the RMHC task team will be having their first meeting for 2015. Current thoughts are that the three districts will be areas where a lot of work still has to be done in providing quality mental health care services. One district will be a NHI pilot site and another district a good practice model but not a NHI pilot site. These 5 districts will form part of the criteria for the profile that is presented to stakeholders and partners at the end of January 2015. The campaign will concentrate on collecting narratives from services users and health care workers who access and service Primary level care centres in rural areas i.e. Community Clinics, Community Health Centres and District hospitals.
As a stakeholder in rural mental health, please feel free to send your thoughts on potential districts which you think we should be focusing our attention on.
The Task team and partners will build and compile these narratives from users, health care workers and service providers. Through the narratives we will identify common themes and the key advocacy tasks as related to the information gathered.
The campaign No Health Without Mental Health will kick-off in the public domain during mental health month (October 2015) with the launch of the publication “Mental Health: Real People Real Stories”. It is envisaged that the booklet, with specific advocacy tasks, will be handed over to the Department of Health.).
Timelines of all activities planned
December 2014: Update to partners with minutes from workshop and confirmed Task team
January 2015:Checklist/Profile complete and call made for stories
January 2015: Rural-proofing mental health guidelines workshop and task team meeting
February – April 2015: Collection of mental health stories
April-June 2015: Task team meeting: Review and selection of mental health stories for publication, development of key advocacy tasks
July-August 2015: Design and printing of mental health publication
August-September 2015: Preparation for public launch
October 2015: Launch campaign and publication
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