Background: The publication of the World Health Report of 2001 by the World Health Organization (WHO) raised awareness of mental health worldwide. It reported a higher burden of mental illnesses in developing countries, with fewer resources to address the conditions. Since then, many initiatives have been taken in Cameroon to improve the mental health of the population, but these efforts lack local scientific evidence to support them. This study aims to describe the mental health services available in the West Region of Cameroon and to provide evidence-based support to this process. Method: We used the World Health Organization Assessment Instrument for Mental Health systems (WHO-AIMS) version 2.2 to collect, analyze, and report the data on mental health services offered in 2020 in the West Region of Cameroon. We extracted our data from the registers of 10 mental health facilities of the region, and we interviewed the staff in these facilities and at the Ministry of Public Health. Results: The region is divided into 20 health districts, of which six offered mental health services. As a whole, Cameroon had a mental health policy, mental health plan, but no mental health legislation or emergency plan. There was no specific budget for mental health in the country. In the West Region there were not any psychiatrists. Mental health services were provided by nurses, psychologists, general practitioners, and neurologists. There were 1.87 human resources in mental health facilities per 100,000 population, of which 1.4 were nurses. 1 in 1.4 of these nurses worked in the main city. There was no formal link of mental health services with other sectors and no publication in the previous five years about mental health in the region referenced on PubMed. Conclusion: In 2020, the access to mental health services in the West Region of Cameroon was inequitable. The approach to mental health system development was not inclusive and not supported by enough scientific evidence.
- Mental health system
- West Region