My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?
It is hard to address all the structural problems and inequalities in such a short time. Still, you need to ask yourselves some uncomfortable questions: Why is South Africa’s education system underperforming? Why are the rates of illiteracy so high? What has caused the culture of non-attendance and resistance to learning? How has such disparity in the allocation of resources been allowed to occur? How can the inequities in the system be resolved so that every South African child has equal access to quality education? How can the teachers’ union be motivated to drive efforts towards positive change? Those questions need to be addressed if South Africa’s hard-fought democracy is to be sustained for generations to come. – Mary Robinson in the Nelson Mandela Lecture.BACK TO TOP