Project Lead(s): Christine Musyimi
Depression is a major public health problem and access to mental health specialists in developing countries is inadequate, especially for the poorest sectors of society.
The treatment gap in mental health is estimated to be above 80% in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) compared to less than 40% in high-income countries, mainly due to a lack of specialized human resources.
This Kenyan-based project aimed to increase mental health literacy and the ease of screening for depression by healthcare workers using the World Health Organization's Mental Health Treatment Gap Intervention Guidelines (mhGAP-IG) software.
Primary healthcare workers were trained, supervised and supported in delivering evidence-based interventions at the point-of-care, using the mhGAP-IG software on smart phones with a link to a central computer based at Africa Mental Health Foundation (AMHF).
This enabled a continuous dialogue between the primary care workers and a mental health specialist.
The study sites were four rural health centres in Kibwezi district, Kenya.
Fourteen health workers were trained on mobile-based depression screening using the mhGAP-IG.
Over a period of three months, there was an increased number of patients (614) screened for depression in the four health facilities.
Patients’ outcomes were measured at three months using the Becks Depression Inventory scale and there was a statistically significant (39%) improvement in depression symptoms.
The project team plans to increase coverage to other rural settings and test it in urban areas. They aim to engage the county government at the community level in order to support inclusion of mental health services in the annual budget.
Knowledge of the project was disseminated through conferences, published locally and a manuscript has been developed for publication in a mental health journal.