Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health

Overview

The department of Psychiatry and Mental Health aim to be a department;of academic excellence that produces transformative and integrative teaching, research, healthcare and public service relevant to mental illness and well-being in local, African and global contexts.

We provide assertive outreach and supportive services to Step-Down Facilities, District Hospitals and Community Health Clinics in the West Metro area, and beyond.

And our teaching includes extensive participation in the education of undergraduates studying medicine and allied professions (including occupational therapy, physiotherapy), postgraduate training in psychiatry, and sub-specialty training.

The department is also an HPCSA registered site for the training of intern clinical psychologists and provides training for masters students.

 

Clinical Services

Members of our Department are on joint appointment with the Western Cape Government Health, and provide clinical services at Groote Schuur Hospital, Valkenberg Hospital, Lentegeur Hospital, Red Cross Children's War Memorial Hospital, and Alexandra Hospital. In line with the vision of the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Western Cape Government, we are committed to a primary care approach in each of our divisions/focus areas. We provide assertive outreach and supportive services to Step-Down Facilities, District Hospitals and Community Health Clinics in the West Metro area, and beyond.

 

Teaching

Teaching includes extensive participation in the education of undergraduates studying medicine and allied professions (including occupational therapy, physiotherapy), postgraduate training in psychiatry, and sub-specialty training.

The department is also an HPCSA registered site for the training of intern clinical psychologists and provides training for maters students.Sub-speciality trainingoccurs in each of the Divisions, with:

  1. an M Phil in Addiction Psychiatry, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Consultation-Liasion Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatry, Intellectual Disability Psychiatry, Neuropsychiatry, and Public Mental Health
  2. PGDip in Addiction Care, and in Psychotherapy
  3. Clinical Research Fellowship in Psychosis

We also offer:

  • an M Med (Psychiatry) (by coursework and dissertation)
  • an MSc Med (Neuroscience) (by dissertation, with coursework as needed)
  • PhD in Psychiatry and Mental Health (by dissertation)
  • Brain-Behavior Initiative Post-Doctoral Fellowships

 

Divisions

The Department aims to integrate teaching, research, and clinical services. This integrated approach takes place across the different divisions of the Department, which comprise:

The division of Addiction Psychiatry developed from the realisation that the area of Addictions was under-emphasised and not ideally managed in the Department of Psychiatry. We offer a M Phil (Addictions Psychiatry) degree, as well as a Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) in Addictions to provide targeted training to individuals with an interest in addictions and to provide up-to-date training to those already working in in the field of addictions.Our clinical services are predominantly provided on an outpatient basis, through liaison work and in outreach clinics to the Drug Counselling Centre. We use several beds in our acute admission units at Groote Schuur Hospital for inpatient care of substance dependent patients and have motivated for, and are waiting for dedicated beds to become available.

The division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry is based at the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital. It provides training, research and clinical services to support the psychiatric and mental health needs of children and adolescents. Clinically, it provides outpatient (for those up to 18 years of age), in-patient (for children under 13 years old) and consultation-liaison psychiatry services.

This division of Consultation Liaison Psychiatry (CL) responds to the needs of persons living with medical conditions and mental illness. In response to the increased awareness at Groote Schuur Hospital, and the growing recognition of the burden of mental disorders in patients with chronic medical conditions with depressive, anxiety, substance abuse and neuro-cognitive disorders, we have expanded the CL service to develop a program of clinical service, teaching and research relevant to the field of CL psychiatry and mental health.

The Forensic Mental Health division’s activities include assessment of accused referred by the courts in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Act, rehabilitation and risk management of state patients, teaching and training responsibilities, as well as research into femicide, family murder, female offenders, risk and recovery.

This division of Intellectual Disability Psychiatry seeks to provide clinical and public service provision, teaching and advocacy for people with intellectual disability. The division offers in-and outpatient mental health care for complex psychiatric and behavioural presentations in children, adolescents and adults with intellectual and developmental disability.They offer an MPhil in Intellectual Disability Mental Health, open to postgraduate multidisciplinary health professionals who are working in the field and are registered with the Health Professions Council (HPCSA), the South African Nursing Council (SANC) and the South African Council for Social Services Professions (SACSSP).

The Provincial Government of the Western Cape initially funded GSH-HIV Neuropsychiatry in 2006 as a response to the needs of persons living with HIV (PLWH) with severe mental illness. In response to this stimulus, and the growing recognition of the burden of mental disorders in PLWH with depressive, anxiety, substance abuse and neuro-cognitive disorders, we have built on this platform to develop a program of clinical service, teaching and research relevant to the field of HIV and mental health. As the Division grew, the service, teaching and research platform included old age psychiatry and related degenerative disorders, traumatic brain injury, epilepsy, brain tumours, neuro-inflammatory diseases (such as lupus), metabolic disorders, and vascular brain conditions.

The division has been funded by local and international agencies to investigate mechanisms of HIV-associated neuro-cognitive disorders, as well as somatic and behavioural treatments for a range of neuropsychiatric disorders. The Division is recognised as a leader in the training of sub-specialist neuropsychiatrists.

This division offers in- and out-patient clinical services at two hospital sites, which aims to assist adults with a wide range of psychiatric illnesses and psychological problems. These clinical sites also serve as training facilities for psychiatry training.

Psychopharmacology has long been a key interest of the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, given that joint appointment staff use psychiatric medications as a key intervention in our psychiatric health care services, and given that pharmacotherapy is a key curriculum area at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. In recent years, the division has also seen substantial growth in three related areas of research neuroimaging, neurogenetics, and neuroscience.

The division of Psychotherapy provides professional integrated clinical services, training opportunities and resources aimed at enhancing the quality of life and wellness of the appropriate referrals. Services are provided for a diverse population (including children and adults), and in a range of settings (general psychiatry, intellectual disability, forensic and general medical settings).

Public Mental Health has been defined as follows: “In a public mental health approach, the unit of analysis is a population or a community, rather than an individual or a patient. With this approach, the psychiatrist/ psychologist is led logically to analyse the way in which services are organised for a given population; the policies, plans and budgets that inform that service organisation; the ethical dimensions underlying the allocation of resources; and the role of the psychiatrist/psychologist in the health system.

 

Research groups

The department collaborates broadly on providing clinical services, teaching, research and advocacy in: