Nurses’ perceptions of mental healthcare in primary-care settings in Kenya

Emily Mendenhall, Gitonga Isaiah, Bernadette Nelson, Abednego Musau, Adam D. Koon, Lahra Smith, Victoria Mutiso, David Ndetei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Kenya maintains an extraordinary treatment gap for mental health services because the need for and availability of mental health services are extraordinarily misaligned. One way to narrow the treatment gap is task-sharing, where specialists rationally distribute tasks across the health system, with many responsibilities falling upon frontline health workers, including nurses. Yet, little is known about how nurses perceive task-sharing mental health services. This article investigates nurses’ perceptions of mental healthcare delivery within primary-care settings in Kenya. We conducted a cross-sectional study of 60 nurses from a public urban (n = 20), private urban (n = 20), and public rural (n = 20) hospitals. Nurses participated in a one-hour interview about their perceptions of mental healthcare delivery. Nurses viewed mental health services as a priority and believed integrating it into a basic package of primary care would protect it from competing health priorities, financial barriers, stigma, and social problems. Many nurses believed that integrating mental healthcare into primary care was acceptable and feasible, but low levels of knowledge of healthcare providers, especially in rural areas, and few specialists, would be barriers. These data underscore the need for task-sharing mental health services into existing primary healthcare in Kenya.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)442-455
Number of pages14
JournalGlobal public health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 3 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Kenya
  • Nurses
  • mental health
  • task-sharing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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