Building capacity of local governments, service users and carers to scale up provision for community mental health services in Africa: a case study of Kenya and Uganda

Joyce Kingori (Country Programme Manager at BasicNeeds UK in Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya. )
Christina Angela Ntulo (Director of New Initiatives BasicNeeds and Executive Director – BasicNeeds Uganda Foundation, Kampala, Uganda)

Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care

ISSN: 1757-0980

Publication date: 23 May 2011



The purpose of this case study is to describe the experiences of a development organization operating in Africa to make mental health services accessible to communities in Kenya and Uganda through partnerships. The lessons that can be learnt from this work are also considered.


The paper is a case study that builds on operations research gathered over five to seven years by the authors who have managed the country mental health programmes in Uganda and Kenya. The case study describes the problem of mental illness and its magnitude in Kenya and Uganda, and why it is important that this is addressed. Existing mechanisms in place and gaps in current service provision are also discussed.


Methods used to address gaps in current service provision include capacitating different service providers, their roles and their contribution to community mental health. The inclusion and training of non‐psychiatrists can contribute to the management, treatment and recovery of people with mental health problems in African communities.

Research limitations/implications

The case study is limited in its applicability in full to other low to middle income countries (LMICs). Causality cannot be established between improvement in access and training of the different health service providers.

Practical implications

The case study gives practical experiences that practitioners in LMICs can further test in improving access to community‐based mental health services. These experiences can help to form a promising practice in how LMICs can reduce health workforce gaps in mental health and planners can consider using this to reduce such gaps.

Social implications

The case study shows how the participation of service users and other stakeholders and using family resources can bring ownership and sustainability of mental health care at the community level.


The case study adds value to practice and social development theories and models of care.



Kingori, J. and Angela Ntulo, C. (2011), "Building capacity of local governments, service users and carers to scale up provision for community mental health services in Africa: a case study of Kenya and Uganda", Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 53-59.

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