The Challenges Faced by Mental Health Care Users in a Primary Care Setting: A Qualitative Study


Over the past two decades, the value and benefits of integrated mental health care services have been increasingly recognised. Despite the potential benefits, barriers exist at primary care level to receiving mental health care services, interfering with continuity of care. We conducted semi-structured interviews with mental healthcare users at a primary care clinic in South Africa, to explore their experiences of receiving mental health care services. A convenience sample of 15 participants identified challenges such as limited infrastructure, organisation, medication, services in local communities, allied mental health care services, communication and long waiting times. Mental health care users felt uncared for and disrespected, especially if they were treated by unskilled and overworked staff. Mental health care users described clinic visits as stressful and frustrating. Mental health care users described marked challenges in mental health care service provision in a South African primary health care setting.

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The authors are grateful to Dr L Razwiedani, Chairperson of the Tshwane Research Committee for enabling the research at the clinic and to Dr C Tosh, Science editor at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, for role as science and language editor.


This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

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Correspondence to Kalai Naidu.

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Baker, N., Naidu, K. The Challenges Faced by Mental Health Care Users in a Primary Care Setting: A Qualitative Study. Community Ment Health J 57, 285–293 (2021).

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  • Challenges
  • Mental health care users
  • Primary health care
  • Primary mental health care