MEGA ProjectMega Project, School of Nursing

Improving mental health literacy and capacity of primary health care workers by developing and implementing a m-health screening tool for child and adolescent mental health problems


Ronelle Jansen from the School of Nursing in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) secured funding for a large three-year multi-partner research project. The project is part of a larger European Union funded project: “Building capacity by implementing mhGAP mobile intervention in SADC countries”. A consortium of nine Universities collaborate on the project. Apart from the UFS, other partner institutions include Turku University of Applied Science in Finland; Hamburg University of Applied Sciences in Germany; Riga Technical University in Latvia; the Universities of Stellenbosch; Cape Town; Pretoria; the University of Zambia and Lusaka Apex Medical University.

Mega project building capacityThe project objective is to improve child and adolescent access to mental health services and appropriate care, by developing a mobile mental health screening tool to be used in primary health care (PHC) settings in South Africa, Zambia and other Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries. Promoting mental health is one of the main targets of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for 2030. As part of these goals enhanced focus is placed on the prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases, including child and adolescent mental health disorders, which constitute a major challenge for sustainable development. Keeping young people healthy has a positive impact on productivity and competitiveness, thus new innovative solutions are needed to promote mental health. The project has a four phase implementation plan. Phase One will investigate the mental health literacy of PHC practitioners to identify areas in need of development. A mobile health (m-health) application to screen for common child and adolescent mental health problems will be tested in Phase Two. In Phase Three a tiered education and training program in the use of the m-health application and related mental health content will be implemented and evaluated. In Phase Four the acceptability and feasibility of the m-health application in PHC centers at sites across South Africa and Zambia will be evaluated. The outcomes of this MEGA project will benefit primary health care professionals at a local level by increasing their competence to screen for mental health issues, with the aim to improve child and adolescent access to mental health care.
Mega project

Investigators at the University of the Free State include Ms Ronelle Jansen (M.Cur. Psychiatric Nursing Science) in the capacity of Project Manager (; Ms Marita Coetzee (B.Cur. Nursing): Researcher and Teacher (; and Ms Ega Janse van Rensburg-Bonthuyzen (M Soc SC: Sociology of Health and Health Care): Project Administrator, Technical Support and Researcher (

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