Mental Health Progress, Milestones and Challenges – MEDIA STATEMENT

Durban and Coastal Mental Health (DCMH) board and management welcome the enquiries from different stakeholders including the media. Concerns are noted as well. DCMH firstly appreciates the relationship it continues to have with the KZN Department of Social Development, Department of Health, and eThekwini Municipality respectively. DCMH has over the past 18 months worked tirelessly in adapting to changing times and bringing about new strategies and plans for the benefit of service users. DCMH believes the attack on the MEC was unwarranted and underwhelming. The attack launched by the DA KZN Spokesperson Mmabatho Tembe continues to look more like an attempt to score political points than to deal with the real issue. Anyone exploiting a vulnerable community to achieve political mileage must be condemned in the strongest terms. DCMH however appreciates genuine concerns raised genuinely by members of society and all. Utility bills remain a burning issue across the Republic of South Africa.

Throughout municipalities and institutions in the country utility bills remain an ongoing threat to the institutional survival of organisations, particularly Not-For-Profit organisations. It would have been welcomed for the DA leader to have sought a response from DCMH which is an independent organisation with the capacity to respond. DCMH is responsible for a vulnerable community, but it equally has capable management and staff who can attend to Ms. Tembe’s concerns. Her article has raised concerns but has failed to indicate what the organisation is doing in sustaining the lives of service users. For purposes of assisting Ms. Tembe, DCMH would like to invite her to shadow our ongoing study into the utility issue facing many organisations in the country.

DCMH has been working closely with the city and other stakeholders in finding sustainable solutions to electricity challenges. Problems of utilities are underpinned by several factors such as high tariffs, inconsistently regulated subsidies and benefits between NGOs and Corporates, outdated national legislations on NGO funding and many more. These challenges are not a competency of an individual political party but of all political parties and such should be considered during all policy review processes. These are policy issues more than governance issues. Solutions to these issues are also meant to benefit all races, not individual races. DCMH also acknowledges the impact of underfunding in all its operations. DCMH management is implementing its turnaround strategy and should be afforded an opportunity to do so. Any rash attempt to project a negative image on the organisation potentially negates all potential benefits that can be derived from a positive public image and prudent management. This call is made especially because NGOs draw much of their survival from maintaining a positive image.

It is important to mention that amongst other positive milestones, service providers who have withdrawn their services because of non-payments over the past 12 months have been reduced by approximately 90%. This is a positive trajectory the organisation seeks to sustain. Our greater efforts will also remain attentive in dealing with legacy debts that have been inherited including exploring self-sustenance efforts and creative ways of running affairs. It is true that Fedics one of the food caterers is withdrawing services, however, DCMH continues to provide nutritious meals daily. DCMH will not comment further on the contractual engagement between service providers and DCMH. It gives us great pleasure to have kept to commitments that were made when the current board took over in March 2021. External Auditors were appointed, Key Finance Personnel have been appointed, and a new CEO is leading a turnaround programme. The board capacity of DCMH has yet again been strengthened by the appointment of Advocate Phambuka a corporate governance expert, Mr. Lunga Khawula (CA), Mr. Smiso Mtolo an Occupational Therapist and an observer from the South African Federation for Mental Health, Dr. Ingrid Daniels who is also the CEO for Cape Mental Health.

The relationship with stakeholders has improved a great deal over the past 18 months. DCMH would however also like to caution against the racializing the challenges of NGOs and similar institutions. Challenges and Successes should not be deemed legitimate or illegitimate through racial lenses but from conscious collaborations and uniting in times of hardships, therefore ensuring the service users are well taken care of. We call upon all members of the public to write to our offices whenever they need an appraisal on DCMH related issues. We also invite other NGOs to write to us as we would like to find collaborative solutions, particularly to policy-related issues. If you have mental health-related challenges kindly visit our offices or write to us on the e-mail below. About DCMH Durban and Coastal Mental Health (DCMH) is one of South Africa’s longest serving and largest indigenous NonProfit Organisation established in 1940. The organisation has over the years accomplished revolutionary impact, focusing in areas of transformation of services and in disadvantaged and marginalized rural communities. DCMH aims to make a difference in the lives of communities through outreach programmes which are underpinned by our values of integrity, trustworthiness, honesty, transparency, our staff, good cooperate governance and accountability.

For more info, contact DCMH on 031 207 2717or

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