The UN predicts that 68% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. Mental illness, substance abuse and violence are interrelated upshots of rapid urbanisation. SA is 66% urbanised and the urban growth rate is about 2% per annum. About 70% of migrants in SA cities are citizens from other provinces; only 30% come from other countries. Yet there is limited data available on the extent of mental health challenges in SA, or even what proportion of SA’s medical budget is spent on mental health care. Depression, suicide and substance abuse are increasingly recognised as global epidemics and they should be considered “in the context of growing urbanisation and declining social capital”, Dr John Parker from the SA Society of Psychiatrists said. “We have the problem of a continuous inflow of people into our cities piling shack upon shack, as well as more density within our townships creating slum areas, and an established population in our cities adding to our natural population ...

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