Registered Containment Officers; A Grassroots-Level Mental Health Framework for South Africa

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Over the past two decades, progressive changes to mental health policies and legislature have been implemented all over the world, South Africa included. As a low- and middle-income country plagued by compounding factors such as high unemployment rates and high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, the execution of mental health reform initiatives in South Africa have been inconsistent and inadequate. Research indicates that there are significant gaps in South Africa’s mental healthcare system and the majority of funding and resources are funneled towards short-term curative interventions. As research in the field of adolescent mental health advances, it shows the importance of mental well-being in the development of children as well as the long-term effects on the emerging adults. This manuscript describes a preventative grassroots intervention designed to use resources currently available in South Africa to create long-term, generational changes while inherently destigmatizing mental illness. By appropriately training and registering Psychology Honours graduates as Registered Containment Officers and adapting the current Life Orientation curriculum to focus on psychological concepts and mental well-being, it is possible to create generations of children and adults with a psychological understanding and a destigmatized perspective of mental health. This framework requires intersectoral collaboration from a number of regulating bodies and government departments, all with the aim of creating realistic preventative change in South Africa while
creating employment, promoting mental health, and protecting the country’s future.

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