The low number of psychologists is limiting the capability to provide essential services, such as substance abuse treatment, and intervening in cases of emotional distress, which warrants psychological support, said Mpho Thula, the Sbrana Psychiatric Hospital Superintendent.
“Our role as a national Referral centre for Mental Health involves not only provision of treatment and care but promoting and preventing mental illness in our nation,” he said.
He conceded that Mental Health is a very important topic which needs to be monitored and given due attention by government and others.
He said, unfortunately, “we are only realizing this important fact, but the government has a long way to go in developing our mental health Services”.
“The obvious challenge is shortage of specialized staff, particularly clinical Psychologists and psychiatric nurses to handle our patient load. The Hospital has only three Psychologists and that is very inadequate which now resulted in limiting our capability to provide essential service,” said Thula.
He further said the hospital currently has two wards, one for children and adolescents then a private ward which is not yet functional because of shortage of nurses.
He said that the infrastructure and equipment are also a challenge, adding that the hospital is not robust enough to function as a secure psychiatric hospital. However it is expected to function as such because it is a referral centre of last resort.
At Sbrana Psychiatric Hospital, the accumulation of patients from all parts of Botswana in this facility has resulted in substantial damage to its rather beautiful but fragile structure. Most of this damage has gone unrepaired for the past two years because of deficiencies in government maintenance system.
“The poor suitability of the structure, coupled with accumulating damages result in frequent absconding by patients and difficulty in controlling the movement of patients in the hospital, posing a risk to the patients, the staff and the general public. He said they had long called for the hospital not only to be maintained but reinforced to make it a secure facility for patients.
Thula further said that despite the challenges the hospital has, they are not deterred in providing the best service in patient service. He said the hospital still experience cases of people coming to Sbrana to seek general medical care but regrettably “we have to redirect them to general medical facilities”.