Integration of mental health into primary healthcare: Perceptions of stakeholders in Pakistan

Syed S. Hussain, Murad Khan, Raisa Gul, Nargis Asad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In Pakistan, there is high prevalence of mental health disorders, but mental health services to address these are not well developed. To provide effective mental health services, the World Health Organization emphasizes the integration of mental health into primary health care (PHC). Objectives: This study aimed to assess the views of key stakeholders about integration of mental health into PHC in Karachi, Pakistan. Methods: A qualitative, exploratory study was conducted between June and September 2013 among 15 decision-making (from the Department of Health) and implementation-level stakeholders (mental health and public health professionals and primary care staff) from both the public and private sectors. Face-to-face, in-depth interviews were conducted using a semi-structured interview guide. Data were collected until theoretical saturation was achieved and conventional content analysis was carried out. Results: Although there was general support among all the stakeholders for integration of mental health services within PHC, there were also a number of reservations. First was the perceived lack of support within the system in terms of resource allocation and acceptance from the community. Second was the lack of human resources in the field of mental health. In addition, resistance at the PHC level is likely as staff are already burdened with other preventive care services. Conclusions: The study suggests that strong political commitment, adequate human and financial resources, and strong advocacy are needed for the integration of mental health into PHC in Pakistan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-153
Number of pages8
JournalEastern Mediterranean Health Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • Mental health in Pakistan
  • Mental health in primary care
  • Mental health integration


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