Mental health services in the Western Cape | Western Cape Government

Mental health services in the Western Cape


What are mental illnesses?A young woman looking stressed while sitting at home

Mental illnesses (also called mental health conditions or mental health disorders) include a wide range of conditions with different symptoms that affect the way a person thinks, feels or behaves. Mental illnesses are generally characterised by a combination of significant disturbances in thinking, emotions, behaviour and relationships with others. Mental illnesses can affect anyone regardless of race, age, sex or social status, and there's no shame in having a mental illness.

View the signs of mental illness here.

Most mental illnesses can be successfully managed if the correct advice, help and treatment are provided. It's normal to experience poor mental health now and then, but it's important to know what the warning signs are and when to seek help. This is when you might be experiencing:  

  • Delusions or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there)
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Extremely high and low moods
  • Long-lasting sadness or irritability
  • Excessive fear, worry or anxiety
  • Using drugs and/or alcohol to cope with life
  • Social withdrawal
  • Thoughts of suicide/suicide attempts

Besides the difficulties arising directly from living with a mental illness, people who live with mental illnesses may also face other obstacles, including difficulties in:

  • Getting the right diagnosis and treatment. This is often because mental illnesses are poorly recognised and resources for mental healthcare have been historically underfunded.
  • Being accepted as an equal, valuable member of society because of stigma and discriminatory attitudes. This also makes finding work and taking part in community life extremely difficult.

Despite this, most people who experience mental illness will, if given the right support, be able to recover sufficiently to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities.


Female doctor doing medical exam of a woman patient in clinic. Healthcare professional discussing treatment with woman in hospital.Mental healthcare in the Western Cape

The Department of Health addresses the growing need for care of patients with mental illness by improving access to treatment and counselling at primary healthcare level.

Several health facilities in the province make provision for the admission of people experiencing mental health problems. This is in line with the Mental Healthcare Act 17 of 2002.

These are the different hospitals in the Western Cape that provide mental health services:  

  • Tygerberg Hospital
  • Groote Schuur Hospital
  • Alexandra Hospital 
  • Lentegeur Hospital 
  • Stikland Hospital and New Beginnings which is supported by Stikland Hospital  
  • Valkenberg Hospital

The Mental Health Review Board provides added support to these mental health facilities. These hospitals give access to the full package of psychiatric hospital services to people living in the Western Cape.

As part of the Healthcare 2030 vision, mental health services in the province will be integrated into community-based, primary healthcare, and acute hospital platforms and service delivery. Only those clients requiring a more specialised level of intervention and treatment will be treated within a specialist hospital.

Treatment for mental illnesses is handled professionally and in a caring environment. It’s important to treat mental health like any other health issue you or your loved one may have, by:

  • Finding professional guidance and assistance. 
  • Seeking advice and support from support groups and receiving the correct treatment to manage your mental health.

There are also community-based care organisations (such as Cape Mental Health) that play an important role in assisting people to gain access to mental health information and services in the Western Cape.


Mental health community outreach in the Western Cape

Various outreach initiatives are done together with psychiatric hospitals in the Western Cape. These are when mental health professionals, psychiatrists, psychiatry registrars and psychologists provide care at clinics, Regional, District Hospitals and Community Health Centres. The Primary Healthcare (PHC) service also offers mental health services where they: 

  • Identify, diagnose and treat common mental illnesses. 
  • Organise the referral of complicated mental health problems to more appropriate levels of mental health care.

If you or someone you know lives with a mental illness, you can go to your local clinic where a health worker will assess you and offer initial treatment.

Treatment may include medication as well as short-term individual or group counselling and support. The mental health nurse may consult with the psychologist or psychiatrist (or other members of the mental health team) when additional expertise is needed. If necessary, the mental health nurse may set up an appointment with one of these specialists for further assessment.

Provided At: These facility categories:
Provided by:
Government Body: (Department of Health and Wellness, Western Cape Government)
The content on this page was last updated on 7 October 2022