10 October 2018 | Story UFS
UFS School of Nursing gets funding for mental health project
Ronelle Jansen received research funding to provide adolescents with improved access to mental health services and care.

Ronelle Jansen from the School of Nursing at the University of the Free State (UFS) received research funding as part of a multistakeholder capacity-building project to provide adolescents with improved access to mental health services and care in PHC (primary healthcare) settings. 

The research aims to develop and implement a mobile mental health (mHealth) application screening tool for primary healthcare workers (PHCW) to identify adolescent mental health problems and provide mental healthcare training. 

Under pressure 

Jansen (UFS team leader) says mental health screening is sometimes lacking at the clinic level, because the clinics are so busy. “PHCW are under huge pressure due to the number of people they have to see every day, and due to severe staff shortages.

“There is, amongst others, a huge amount of paperwork that needs to be completed for each patient. The nurses only get about 10 minutes to see each patient and mental health screening is seen as time consuming.”

Early identification 

Jansen says the mHealth tool will focus on adolescents and they hope that the mobile application will help nurses with early identification of mental health problems. The clinic staff will then be able to treat and refer the patient correctly. 

She says they hope an accessible and user-friendly mobile tool will also help to motivate PHCW to more regularly screen for mental health problems.

This research is a three-year project co-funded by the Erasmus + programme of the European Union. Nine universities will collaborate on the project. Other partner institutions include the Turku University of Applied Science in Finland (project coordinator); Hamburg University of Applied Sciences in Germany; Riga Technical University in Latvia; the universities of Stellenbosch; Cape Town; Pretoria; the University of Zambia and the Lusaka Apex Medical University.

Jansen says the benefit of the research may be that PHCW will be better empowered to screen for mental health problems, with the aim to improve adolescent mental healthcare and train competent PHCW.

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