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Public Mental Health



The Division was founded in 2008 as an interest group in Public Mental Health (PMH) and Community Psychiatry (CP). This later evolved into the Division of Public Mental Health with the understanding that this, in fact, has at least two components, namely Hospital and Community Psychiatry. Public Mental Health has been defined as follows: “In a public mental health approach, the unit of analysis is a population or a community, rather than an individual or a patient. With this approach, the psychiatrist/ psychologist is led logically to analyse the way in which services are organised for a given population; the policies, plans and budgets that inform that service organisation; the ethical dimensions underlying the allocation of resources; and the role of the psychiatrist/psychologist in the health system. Public mental health requires the use of the best available research evidence to inform decision-making, and is driven by the objective of achieving equity in mental health care, including a primary health care approach to health systems.” Founding members included Cathy Aaron, Peter Ashman, Letticia Daniels, Andrew Hooper, Crick Lund, Peter Milligan and John Parker. 

The division includes the Alan J. Flisher Centre for Public Mental Health (CPMH), which was launched in August 2010. The CPMH is a collaborative inter-institutional multidisciplinary centre that conducts high quality research on public mental health, and uses evidence for teaching, consultancy and advocacy to promote mental health in Africa. The CPMH was established through a Memorandum of Understanding signed between UCT and Stellenbosch University in 2010 ( It was formally accredited by the UCT University Research Committee as a Research Centre in 2014. 

The Alan J Flisher Centre for Public Mental Health is based at 46 Sawkins Road in Rondebosch. Office space is provided for the approximately 19 soft-funded researchers in the Centre. Divisional meetings therefore typically take place at Sawkins Road. Members of the division have workplaces throughout the City of Cape Town in a variety of community and hospital-based service settings.