Health system governance to support integrated mental health care in South Africa: challenges and opportunities

Debra Leigh Marais, Inge Petersen
International Journal of Mental Health Systems 2015, 9: 14

BACKGROUND: While South Africa has a new policy framework supporting the integration of mental health care into primary health care, this is not sufficient to ensure transformation of the health care system towards integrated primary mental health care. Health systems strengthening is needed, incorporating, inter alia, capacity building and resource inputs, as well as good governance for ensuring that the relevant policy imperatives are implemented.

OBJECTIVES: To identify systemic factors within institutional and policy contexts that are likely to facilitate or impede the implementation of integrated mental health care in South Africa.

METHODS: Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 17 key stakeholders in the Department of Health and Department of Social Development at national level, at provincial level in the North West Province, and at district level in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda district. Participants were purposively identified based on their positions and job responsibilities. Interview questions were guided by a hybrid of Siddiqi et al.'s governance framework principles and Mikkelsen-Lopez et al.'s health system governance approach. Data were analysed using framework analysis in NVivo.

RESULTS: Facilitative factors included the recent mental health care policy framework and national action plan that embraces integrated care using a task sharing model and provides policy imperatives for the establishment of district mental health teams to facilitate the development and implementation of district mental health care plans; the roll out of the integrated chronic disease service delivery platform that can be leveraged to increase access and resources as well as decrease stigma; and the presence of NGOs that can assist with service delivery. Challenges included the low prioritisation and stigmatisation of mental illness; weak managerial and planning capacity to develop and implement mental health care plans at provincial and district level; poor pre-service training of generalists in mental health care; weak orientation to integrated care; high staff turnover; weak intersectoral coordination; infrastructural constraints; and no dedicated mental health budget.

CONCLUSION: This study identifies strategies to support and improve integrated mental health care in primary health care services.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Available on the App Store

Available on the Play Store
Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"