Back to search
Assessing mental health literacy of primary health care workers in Kenya: a cross-sectional survey
Abstract Aim To assess mental health literacy of health workers in primary health care services in Kenya. Background Mental illness is common in Kenya, yet there are fewer than 500 specialist mental health workers to serve Kenya’s population of over 50 million. The World Health Organization recommends the integration of mental health care into primary health care services to improve access to and equity of this care, especially in low and middle-income countries. An important step to integrating mental health care into primary health care services is to determine mental health literacy levels of the primary health care workforce. Method A cross-sectional survey using Jorm’s Mental Health Literacy Instrument (adapted for the Kenyan context) was administered to 310 primary health care workers in four counties of Kenya. Results Of the 310 questionnaires distributed, 212 (68.3%) were returned. Of the respondents, 13% had a formal mental health qualification, while only 8.7% had received relevant continuing professional development in the five years preceding the survey. Just over one third (35.6%) of primary health care workers could correctly identify depression, with even fewer recognising schizophrenia (15.7%). Conclusions This study provides preliminary information about mental health literacy among primary health care workers in Kenya. The majority of respondents had low mental health literacy as indicated by their inability to identify common mental disorders. While identifying gaps in primary health care workers’ mental health knowledge, these data highlight opportunities for capacity building that can enhance mental health care in Kenya and similar low and middle-income countries.
Year of Publication
International Journal of Mental Health Systems