Proceedings of a Workshop on the Implementation of Core Competencies for Mental, Neurological and Substance Use Disorders

Academy of Science of South Africa (2014)

Proceedings Report


According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), one in six South Africans suffers from disorders such as anxiety, depression or substance use; this excludes disorders such as bipolar or schizophrenia. Due to inadequate resources in managing this burden, less than 16% of patients receive treatment (South African College of Applied Psychology, 2013). The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) has a strong focus on health issues of the nation and through its convening influence, hosted a workshop on The Implementation of Core Competencies for Mental, Neurological and Substance Use Disorders on 27 –28 May 2014 in Johannesburg. The workshop was attended by stakeholders from government (national and provincial), academia, non-government organisations (NGOs), civil society organisations (CSOs) and professional association/council representatives. This ASSAf workshop follows a series of workshops initiated by the United States’ Institute of Medicine (IOM) aimed at contributing towards addressing the burden of mental, neurological, substance use (MNS) disorders in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). This included a workshop (August 2009) titled Reducing the Treatment Gap, Improving Quality of Care that was held in Uganda (in collaboration with the Ugandan National Academy of Sciences). In September 2012, a second workshop titled Strengthening Human Resources through Development of Core Competencies for MNS Disorders in SSA was also held in Uganda. It was at this 2012 workshop that the candidate core competencies for providers across all MNS disorders were developed, and the output from that workshop forms the basis for the ASSAf workshop. The core competencies enable screening, identification, formal diagnosis, referral, treatment and care of MNS disorders. The objectives of the ASSAf workshop were to: 1. Identify and discuss the key challenges in the implementation of the MNS disorders core competencies within the South African health system context. 2. Explore the best strategies and opportunities that could be adopted by the different stakeholders for effective implementation of MNS disorders core competencies. Workshop participants and speakers identified and discussed a number of overarching key challenges and gaps when it comes to addressing MNS disorders adequately in South Africa.