Thandeka Moyo, Health Reporter
THE Ministry of Health and Child Care has launched mental health discharge guidelines aimed at reducing the number of patients who relapse after being discharged due to lack of healthcare and support systems.
Dr Gerald Gwinji, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said according to the guidelines, mental patients would be required to fill in forms that would ensure they get treatment and support from family, the community and other stakeholders.
“The Mental Health Discharge Plan guidelines is an important toll in the provision of quality mental health services in the country. Most of our patients relapse soon after discharge and get re-admitted, that’s creating a revolving door syndrome which is very expensive for both the patient, family and the Health Sector,” said Dr Gwinji.
“Discharge planning is a formal, dynamic and comprehensive and collaborative process that leads to the development of an individualised programme of care and support which meets the objectively assessed needs of the patient on leaving hospital. It addresses the psychological, social, cultural, therapeutic, educational and occupational interventions necessary to safeguard and enhance that person’s health and the wellbeing of the community.”
The number of people suffering from mental illnesses has been on the increase in Zimbabwe. The ministry approximates that about 1, 3 million Zimbabweans have mental disorders.
Dr Gwinji said families and significant others would be actively involved in the treatment of patients.
“The guidelines have seven key principles which include integration of mental health illness into existing health care services.
“We also hope to do audits of discharge planning to ensure that there is an improvement of its format and implementation. It will also provide a 24-hour acute response system for dealing with psychiatric emergencies,” said Dr Gwinji.