Integrating mental health screening into routine community maternal and child health activity: experience from Prevention of Mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) trial in Nigeria

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Iheanacho T, Obiefune M, Ezeanolue CO, Ogedegbe G, Nwanyanwu OC, Ehiri JE, Ohaeri J, Ezeanolue EE. Integrating mental health screening into routine community maternal and child health activity: experience from Prevention of Mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) trial in Nigeria. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2015 Mar;50(3):489-95.

Although the prevalence of mental health disorders in Nigeria is comparable to most developed countries, access to mental health care in Nigeria is limited. Improving access to care requires innovative approaches that deliver mental health interventions at the community level. The aim of this study was to determine the feasibility and acceptability of integrating mental health screening into an existing community-based program for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV targeted at pregnant women and their male partners.

Pregnant women and their male partners from 117 churches enrolled in the healthy beginning initiative (HBI) in southeast Nigeria participated in the mental health screening project. Two members from each church were trained as church-based health advisors to administer the 12-item general health questionnaire.

Ninety-three percent of the pregnant women and their male partners agreed to participate and fully completed the questionnaire. Overall, 21.7 % of the respondents scored above the threshold of 11 indicating significant psychological distress, with women having significantly higher scores than men.

Mental health screening is feasible and well accepted among a cohort of pregnant women and their male partners. Church members can be trained as health advisors to administer mental health screening. Mental health interventions can be developed on the framework of the HBI.

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