Five million South Africans (10% of the population) have been affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at a level that can be recognized and treated by a psychologist. (Source: Scientific & Advisory Board of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group and reviewed by the Medical Research Council Research Unit on Anxiety and Distress Disorders)
- As a result of the many accompanying medical and behavioural problems accompanying PTSD, the unseen cost to the South African economy is estimated to be R40 billion per annum.
- Complex and Continuous trauma – although the actual figure is unknown it is thought that the majority of peopleaffected by ongoing trauma are the most poorly resourced to deal with its consequent effects.
- Many people in South Africa live with PTSD as a result of being victims of violent crime, hijackings, rape, family abuse; as a result of chronic illness’ like cancer and HIV/AIDS; and the consequence of motor vehicle accidents;
- People with PTSD are your friends and neighbours, policemen, emergency service workers, health care workers, security industry workers, and military veterans. PTSD affects their close family members and friends too. People with PTSD are also the criminals in our prisons and current perpetrators of many crimes. Many social workers believe that it’s the lack of trauma care that keeps some suffers in a criminal cycle.
- PTSD does not distinguish between race, age, gender, wealth or social standing.
- Regrettably, the South African professions of Psychology and Psychiatry have no public programmes. In short, our psychologists and psychiatrists are poorly resourced in their own right with an impossible ratio of human requirement to professional services available.
- Trauma is highly stigmatised due to countless socio-political pressures. Additionally there is great misunderstanding as to how it affects individuals and how they can get help.
A lack of understanding of the effects on professional livelihood is prevalent among employers – eg a policeperson diagnosed with PTSD will lose the right to bear arms with the consequent ramifications to his or her career. The lack of alternative sources of care to current inadequate services, can have tragic consequences.