Planning for child and adolescent mental health interventions in a rural district of South Africa: a situational analysis
Objective: The aim of this study was to conduct a situational analysis as part of formative work to inform the development of community-based mental health services for children and adolescents at a district level. The purpose of the situational analysis was to determine the current state of child and adolescent mental health (CAMH), the available resources for CAMH, the range of services provided, and the existing pathways to CAMH care in a low-resource district with a view to developing a district mental health plan to improve access to CAMH services.
Methods: Data for this situational analysis was collected from a rural district in the KwaZulu-Natal province using mixed methods. The qualitative component explored various stakeholders’ (n = 26) perspectives using semi-structured interviews. The quantitative data for the study was collected using an adaptation of the situation analysis tool developed by the PRIME consortium.
Results: The findings revealed the need to strengthen all the basic building blocks of the health system due to the weaknesses identified in the current CAMH care system in the district. The result of the situational analysis revealed that the provision of CAMH services in the district is sparse, uncoordinated, and not prioritised.
Discussion: The findings of the study highlighted a severe shortage of specialised CAMH services in the district, poor integration of CAMH services into primary health care, and at the community platform there are deficits in the integrated school health programme. Further, the lack of a coordinated intersectoral collaborative system and well-defined referral pathways were revealed.
Conclusion: The study highlights various challenges facing CAMH services at the Amajuba district. While these are not new, the study contributes to our understanding of the district level factors that may hinder the development of a district CAMH plan.