Would Strengthening Community Health Systems for Mental Health Improve Access & Increase Utilisation of Services?

Research Paper Title

Strengthening Mental Health Systems in Zambia.

Background

Studies in mental health care for low resource settings indicate that providing services at primary care level would significantly improve provision and utilisation of mental health services.

Challenges related to inadequate funding were noted as significant barriers to service provision, with the contribution of low knowledge of mental health conditions and stigma in the community.

This study aimed to explore the barriers to the use of mental health services in Zambia, suggesting health systems thinking approaches to solving these challenges.

Methods

Primary data were collected through individual interviews from 12 participants; primary caregivers, health workers from public health institutions that treat mental health conditions and policymakers and implementers.

The digitally recorded responses were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis.

Results

Key barriers to care included inadequate funding, few human resources, poor infrastructure and stigma.

Barriers to care at policy, facility and individual or community level could be alleviated by strengthening the mental health system.

Engagement of community health workers and increasing efforts to sensitise the community about mental health would prove beneficial.

Conclusions

Strengthening the community health systems for mental health could improve access and increase utilisation of services.

Reference

Munakampe, M.N. (2020) Strengthening Mental Health Systems in Zambia. International Journal of Mental Health Systems. 14:28. doi: 10.1186/s13033-020-00360-z. eCollection 2020.

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