Western Cape leading the way in school mental health services

Issued by Desiree van der Walt MP – DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Basic Education
16 Apr 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find an attached soundbite by Desiree van der Walt MP

The DA can today reveal that the Western Cape is leading the way in providing much needed mental health services to schools. 

Information revealed in a Parliamentary Question submitted by the DA to the Minister of Basic Education, shows that the number of counsellors and psychologists providing support to schools, through both direct appointments and through district-based support teams are significantly higher in the DA-run Western Cape than in other provinces. 

There is a significant need for mental health services in South Africa, as revealed in a Parliamentary question by the DA last year, which revealed that 6.5 million people in South Africa need professional mental health intervention, of which almost 1.3 million “need care for severe psychiatric conditions.”

Failings of the national government, such as the dire economic environment, unacceptably high unemployment rates, and systemic breakdowns in in the public service have all contributed to a rise in mental health challenges in South Africa. Our nation’s youth are not immune to this crisis, and unfortunately, mental health matters are often overlooked within the schooling environment.

Schools can serve as an important point of contact between children and the provision of mental health services. Schools should therefore be used as environments through which the mental health of our future generations can be protected and improved.

A total of 41 Counsellors are providing support to schools in the Western Cape as per data on PERSAL as of February 2023. This constitutes the vast majority of a total of 48 counsellors providing services across the country. 

A total of 103 psychologists are providing services to schools in the Western Cape as per data on PERSAL as of February 2023. This is a significant proportion of the total of 234 psychologists providing services across the country. 

There is an urgent need for the rest of South Africa to follow the Western Cape’s lead and increase the provision of mental health services to our schools. The future well-being of the nation depends upon it.