Original Research

Views held by South African primary health care nurses on caring for people living with mental illness

Nokukhanya Phungula, Lesley Robertson, Sumaya Mall
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 30 | a2148 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v30i0.2148 | © 2024 Nokukhanya Phungula, Lesley Robertson, Sumaya Mall | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 July 2023 | Published: 03 May 2024

About the author(s)

Nokukhanya Phungula, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Lesley Robertson, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Sumaya Mall,, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Primary healthcare is the first point of entry into the healthcare system. Scaling up primary mental healthcare is recommended in South African mental health policy. However, there is a paucity of data exploring the views of primary healthcare nurses (PHCNs) with regards to caring for people living with mental illness (PLWMI) in South Africa.

Aim: To explore the views of PHCNs around caring for PLWMI and task shifting.

Setting: A community health centre in Gauteng province, South Africa.

Methods: A qualitative study design using the framework approach was employed. Semi-structured individual interviews were conducted among a convenient sample of PHCNs in a community health centre in Gauteng. Interviews were transcribed and data analysed thematically.

Results: Eight PHCNs were interviewed in June 2022. Five themes emerged: (1) participants highlighted their current practice which excludes mental healthcare; (2) participants described feeling fearful of caring for PLWMI; (3) participants ascribed their lack of confidence in caring for PLWMI largely due to insufficient under- and post-graduate mental healthcare training. (4) task shifting was not welcome due to inadequate mental healthcare training and preexisting challenges in the healthcare system; and (5) recommendations to prioritise mental healthcare training prior to implementing task shifting were made.

Conclusion: Primary healthcare nurses, although empathic towards PLWMI, expressed discomfort with caring for them. This is influenced by multiple factors, some of which may be addressed by improved training and support.

Contribution: This study provides insight into how PHCNs feel about caring for PLWMI and task shifting.


Keywords

PLWMI; task shifting; PHCNs; integrated mental healthcare; nurses’ views on mental healthcare; South Africa

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals

Metrics

Total abstract views: 276
Total article views: 182


Crossref Citations

No related citations found.