Psychiatric nurses advocating for the human rights of mental health care users in Gauteng

Nompumelelo Ntshingila, Annie Temane, Marie Poggenpoel, Masodi E. Makhale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Psychiatric nurses play an important role in advocating for mental health care users such as advocating for the care, treatment and rehabilitation of mental health care users (MHCUs). Psychiatric nurses face various challenges while advocating for the human rights of MHCUs, particularly those unable to protect their rights because of the severity of their mental health conditions. Aim: This study aimed to explore and describe psychiatric nurses’ lived experiences in advocating for the human rights of MHCUs in the Gauteng province. Setting: The study was conducted within the primary healthcare (PHC) setting’s mental health services, Sedibeng District, Gauteng province. Methods: The study employed a qualitative, exploratory, descriptive and contextual research design. Three phenomenological focus group interviews were conducted, and audio recorded to collect data. Data were analysed using Tesch’s method. Results: Three themes emerged: (1) advocating for human rights was a strong push and an exhausting plea for psychiatric nurses in their attempts to voice and protect MHCUs’ rights; (2) MHCUs and mental health services were discriminated against and excluded by various stakeholders; mental health awareness should be raised and (3) training needs to be conducted as a matter of urgency in order to destigmatise mental illness from government to societal level. Conclusion: Psychiatric nurses experienced feelings of disempowerment, frustration and helplessness in advocating for MHCUs’ human rights. Contribution: The study’s findings will contribute to the body of knowledge in clinical psychiatric mental health practice on advocating for the human rights of MHCUs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbera2233
JournalSouth African Journal of Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • advocacy
  • experiences
  • human rights
  • mental health care users
  • psychiatric nurses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental Health


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