Blog Archives

Making a case for the integration of mental health screening into HIV care

Source: Journal of Interpersonal Violence

Screening for Traumatic Experiences and Mental Health Distress Among Women in HIV Care in Cape Town, South Africa

“Traumatic events can negatively affect clinical outcomes among HIV positive women, particularly when those events result in ongoing psychological distress. Consequently, there have been calls to integrate screening and treatment of traumatic experiences and associated mental health disorders into HIV care. In South Africa, screening for traumatic experiences and mental health is not a routine part of HIV care. […]

Participants [of this study] almost unanimously agreed that it would be appropriate and acceptable to screen all women in the clinic setting for trauma and mental health symptoms. […]

The high prevalence of traumatic experiences and psychological distress in this study highlights an urgent need to integrate screening into routine HIV care. The study provides evidence of the acceptability of screening for trauma and mental health symptoms among HIV positive women, at the critical points of care engagement when they are initiating ART or have defaulted on ART. In addition, there is need to link women screened to interventions and services, as part of trauma informed HIV care.”

Full text available on Sage Journals



Breaking the link between gender-based and intimate partner violence and HIV

Intimate partner violence (IPV) during or before pregnancy is associated with many adverse health outcomes.

Pregnancy-related complications or poor infant health outcomes can arise from direct trauma as well as physiological effects of stress, both of which impact maternal health and fetal growth and development.

Antenatal care can be a key entry point within the health system for many women, particularly in low-resource settings. Interventions to identify violence during pregnancy and offer women support and counselling may reduce the occurrence of violence and mitigate its consequences.

This research will provide much-needed evidence on whether a short counselling intervention delivered by nurses is efficacious and feasible in low-resource settings that have a high prevalence of IPV and HIV.

Source: BMC Health Services ResearchBMC series

Follow the project: BioMed Central

We Need to Talk About Suicide Prevention in South Africa

Suicide prevention is a serious public health priority, globally and in South Africa (SA). The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that annually 800 000 people die by suicide, with the number expected to rise to 1.53 million by 2020. For every completed suicide there are approximately 20 non-fatal suicide attempts.  As many as 75% of suicides occur in low and middle income countries.

Photo: Jean Gerber

In SA suicide accounts for 9.6% of all unnatural deaths and there is approximately one completed suicide every hour. Data from the National Injury and Mortality Surveillance System suggests that 80% of suicides in SA are male and the number of suicide deaths is highest among individuals of 15 to 29 years of age.

Read the full blog by Dr Jason Bantjes on our DignityInMind campaign site.

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) during pregnancy

Prevalence and Risk Factors in South Africa

Violence against women is a global problem which exacts a high burden of suffering on millions of women and families, including women who are pregnant and postpartum.

In South Africa, studies have shown that 36-40% of pregnant women experience physical IPV, while 15-19% experience sexual IPV.

In this vulnerable population, IPV is associated with a range of physical and mental health consequences for the mother including pregnancy loss, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

South African data have suggested a direct link between violence and HIV infection, where HIV-positive women are more likely than HIV-negative women to have experienced physical violence perpetrated by their partner. Alcohol and other drug use have been identified as another risk factor for IPV during pregnancy, as intoxication may lead to irresponsible behaviour such as violence

In South Africa, the mortality rate attributed to IPV is the highest globally and is double that of the United States. For the infant, there are increased risks associated with preterm delivery and low birth weight.

Read our policy brief on violence against women in South Africa and how to break the cycle on our website


Urgent action needed to address mental health

Declaration on mental health in Africa

Urgent action is needed to address mental health issues globally. In Africa, where mental health disorders account for a huge burden of disease and disability, and where in general less than 1% of the already small health budgets are spent on these disorders, the need for action is acute and urgent. Members of the World Health Organization, including African countries, have adopted a Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan.

Read more @GlobalHealthAct

 global #mentalhealth

Circles of Support – grab a seat

Join the `Circles of Support` advocacy and fundraising campaign of the Perinatal Mental Health Project. You will be delighted by a range of performances by friends of the organisation such as the hilarious Nik Rabinowitz, enchanting singer Aviva Pelham, comedienne Anne Hirsch, iKapa Dance Theatre and other talented artists.

Grab a ticket for only R150  on Computicket

join us on 16 August @ 7.30 pm

at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town


All proceeds from the ticket sales will go to support UCT`s award-winning Perinatal Mental Health Project, which works to develop and advocate for accessible maternal mental health care that can be delivered effectively at scale in low resource settings.


Mental Health disorder in South Africa

The Alan J. Flisher Centre for Public Mental Health (CPMH) and the Perinatal Mental Health Project (PMHP)

in interview with the UCT Development and Alumni Department.

“16.5% of South Africans will have a common mental disorder during any given year”

“45% of women have a mental health disorder during pregnancy”

UCT short film

Watch the interview with Associate Professor Christopher Lund and Dr. Simone Honikman here

Producer and Director: Elle Williams
Assistant Producer: Ruth Pietersen
Lights, Camera and Sound: KJB Productions

Teenage pregnancy in South Africa

SA pupils had more than 200 000 babies in 3 years

About 206 891 babies were born to schoolgoing teenage girls in South Africa between 2009 and 2012, the Education For All report has revealed.

When the research was conducted, 81 655 girls were pregnant, while 8 903 reported stillbirths, says the report, adding that 4 134 had undergone abortions.

The report, which raises the alarm about teenage pregnancy, was published by the Department of Basic Education this month.

Read the full Education for All (EFA) 2013 Country Progress Report here (find under 7.5: Teenage Pregnancy)

Teen Pregnancy


Mental Health Care in Africa

BBC Focus on Africa interviews Dr Mary De Silva from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

about Mental Health Care in Africa


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