Bridging the gap: investigating challenges and way forward for intersectoral provision of psychosocial rehabilitation in South Africa

Journal Article


Journal Title

International Journal of Mental Health Systems

Journal ISSN
Volume Title

BioMed Central


University of Cape Town

Background: Intersectoral collaboration between government sectors such as Health and Social Development and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) in communities is crucial for provision of psychosocial rehabilitation (PSR) for those with severe mental illness. This study aims to provide recommendations for strengthening such intersectoral collaboration in South Africa and with relevance to other low and middle income countries (LMIC), particularly African countries. Methods: Twenty-four in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 key informants from the South African Department of Health, two key informants from the Department of Social Development, four key informants from the NGO sector and one key informant from a service user organisation at national level. Framework analysis was conducted with NVivo 10 software. Results: Challenges to intersectoral work identified were lack of communication between sectors, problems delin eating roles, and each sector’s perception of lack of support from other sectors. Participant-identified strategies for addressing these challenges included improving communication between sectors, promoting leadership from all levels and formalising intersectoral relationships through appropriate written agreements; as well as ensuring that the available resources for PSR are effectively re-directed to district level. Conclusions: This study has outlined several directions for progress to address challenges for intersectoral working for PSR in South Africa. These may be of relevance to other LMIC, particularly those in Africa. Political will and a longterm view will be necessary to realise these strategies.