The Intlalo Clinic at Stikland Hospital offers an inpatient psychotherapeutic programme for people with a range of mental health conditions including depression, anxiety and those who find it difficult to manage emotional and psychological problems associated with certain mental illnesses.
Professor Liezle Koen, head of the clinical unit at Stikland Hospital, said they offer assessments where there is uncertainty about a patient’s mental illness that cannot be resolved on an outpatient basis.
“Our team uses observation methods, special investigations and the use of screening tools and assessments to diagnose a mental health disorder.
“The clinic also provides a recovery-based programme for all forms of mental illness, including depressive disorders, bipolar disorders, psychotic disorders, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and personality disorders,” said Ms Koen.
She said the clinic’s therapeutic services had been adapted over the years to meet the demands of the community.
The programme is run by a team of mental health care practitioners with expertise in the diagnosis and management of mental disorders. This team includes nursing staff, psychologists, psychiatrists, an occupational therapist and social worker.
The 26-bed clinic makes an average of 200 admissions a year.
The services offered are open to individuals between the ages of 18 and 60 living in the Stikland Hospital’s geographical service area.
Ms Koen said clients interested in making use of the services must first be evaluated by their doctor or primary healthcare practitioner and referred to Stikland Hospital for one of the available programmes.
The referral will then be reviewed by the multi-disciplinary team.
“All programmes focus on developing hope, a secure base and sense of self, establishing supportive relationships, empowerment, fostering social inclusion and coping skills,” said Ms Koen.
The clinic offers three inpatient programmes: a two-week diagnostic assessment programme; a two to four week recovery programme; and a five-week dialectic behavioural therapy programme.
The diagnostic assessment programme is a multidisciplinary diagnostic assessment programme suitable for patients who have had an assessment by a mental health professional, but where there is still ongoing diagnostic uncertainty that cannot be resolved in an outpatient setting.
Patients must have had a basic mental health examination to exclude common potential causes of their symptoms.
The recovery programme is suitable for patients who have received acute inpatient or outpatient mental health care, but who have residual symptoms causing distress, ongoing psycho-social dysfunction or who are at risk of relapsing. Patients need to be motivated to and capable of engaging during the programme.
The dialectic behavioural therapy (DBT) programme is specifically offered to patients who are unable to access outpatient DBT services.
The first week of the programme includes an orientation to the DBT model followed by four weeks of twice weekly DBT groups. The DBT programme is suitable for patients struggling with emotional dysregulation, self-harming behaviours, distress tolerance and interpersonal relationship challenges.
“Acute psychiatric services in the Western Cape are overwhelmed by accommodating individuals with severe mental illness who are a risk to themselves or others.
“As a result, individuals with common mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, or those with less severe forms of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, cannot access treatment in the acute services.
“However, a great need still exists for the treatment of these conditions and the services offered at Intlalo Clinic provides the perfect solution,” said Ms Koen.