Prof Melvyn Freeman, the 2013 recipient of the Department of Psychology’s social change award, entitled the public lecture he presented at the award event, ‘Towards better Mental Health in South Africa – A Luta continua’ (the struggle continues). Having devoted most of his working life to creating the conditions for better mental health services in South Africa, the struggle slogan has resonance for Prof Freeman. “I’m pretty sure of the first part [of the slogan]”, he says, “though not too sure about the second [‘vitória é certa’ (victory is certain)]”.
The Social Change award was initiated by the Psychology Department in 2008. In this event the department honours prominent members of the Psychology community in South Africa for their contribution to social change in the country. Introducing Prof Freeman, Prof Macleod emphasized his sustained dedication to mental health in South Africa, evidenced in: his co-founding and being inaugural chairperson of the Organisation for Appropriate Social Services in South Africa (OASSSA) in 1983; his policy and programme work as Director (Mental health and Substance Abuse) and Chief Director (Non-communicable diseases) in the National Department of Health(including being chief drafter and co-ordinator of Mental Health Care Act, which was passed by parliament in 2002), and as consultant to the World Health Organisation; and his research and academic work that has shifted thinking in the mental health arena.
Debating the nature and role of psychology in South Africa’s Higher Education Institutions and society more broadly, Professor Cheryl de la Rey, called for a new approach to the discipline which would be better suited to addressing the challenges experienced by millions of South Africans. ... More