Mental Health Information Centre of Southern Africa
The Mental Health Information Centre (MHIC) aims to promote mental health in Southern Africa.
The Mental Health Information Centre (MHIC) of Southern Africa is situated at the Medicine and Health Sciences Faculty, Stellenbosch University. The MHIC forms part of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Unit on Risk and Resilience in Mental Disorders at Stellenbosch University and the University of Cape Town. The MHIC offers an information, referral, and education service in the mental health field to all Southern Africans. This service includes operating a call/e-mail centre, mailing of information brochures (available in English and isiXhosa and downloadable from the website), referrals to mental health professionals, support groups and clinical drug trials, and talks to business and school groups.
We are actively involved in psycho-education of mental health professionals, conducting and supporting research in psychiatry and related fields, promoting public awareness and understanding of mental health issues, encouraging early diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, and addressing the stigma associated with mental illness. We are also active in mental health advocacy and liaise regularly with the media and other relevant role-players.
Summary of relevant work
We coordinate and participate in awareness campaigns such as Brain Awareness Week, Bipolar Awareness Day, Substance Abuse Awareness Week, National Schizophrenia Day, World Mental Health Day and Mental Health Awareness Month. We liaise with international and national consumer advocacy groups such as the Depression and Anxiety Support Group, the South African Federation for Mental Health (SAFMH), the European DANA Alliance for Brain Research, the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), the World Health Organization (WHO), national and provincial Departments of Health, including providing copies of reports and publications to key personnel. We update and publish patient guides and mental health textbooks of which the Textbook of Psychiatry is one.
Our work further includes assisting the MRC Unit on Risk and Resilience in Mental Disorders with recruitment for their research trials, promotion of the Bathuthuzele Youth Stress Clinic which offers a community service to children and adolescents with post-traumatic stress disorder, conducting research on consumer-related mental health issues, such as mental health attitudes and mental health literacy, managing a website and Facebook page with current and evidence-based mental health information, providing access to an online database of mental health service providers in Southern Africa, and providing the media with facts about mental illness. We encourage accurate and responsible reporting and take pleasure in assisting journalists in compiling articles.
The work of the Mental Health Information Centre has been crucial in establishing specific expertise and capacity in community mental health, mental health promotion, psychiatric nursing and in occupational health research in South Africa and have also contributed significantly to the expertise and expansion of mental health consumer advocacy groups in South Africa.