n Africa Journal of Nursing and Midwifery - Barriers to accessing mental health care in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa

Volume 16, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1682-5055


The aim of this study was to explore and describe the perceptions of professional nurses concerning barriers to care for people with mental illness in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. The study was based on a qualitative, explorative and descriptive design.

A total of nine professional nurses working in primary, secondary and tertiary health care facilities were purposively selected. Unstructured interviews were conducted to collect data. Participants' responses were captured on an audio recorder and later transcribed verbatim. Participants' responses were then analysed thematically.
Two main themes and their related sub-themes were identified. The first theme concerns the perceptions of professional nurses regarding the societal barriers that may hinder people with mental illness from accessing and utilising mental health services. These barriers include socioeconomic hardships, lack of knowledge and insight, lack of family support, embedded cultural beliefs and practices and stigma. The second theme highlights the barriers that professional nurses perceive within the health care system that influence access and utilisation of mental health services. These barriers include inadequate support from stakeholders and leaders in the mental health sector and lack of financial, human and infrastructure resources.
Professional nurses made recommendations to improve mental health care. Those of high priority included enhanced mental health literacy among members of the public and a need for mental health stakeholders and leaders to increase their support of the mental health sector in an effort to improve access to mental health care.

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