In collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO)-Nepal, Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO)-Nepal conducted a half-day meeting with mental health professionals on 26th April 2017. Altogether, 15 professionals from 8 organizations, 1 academic institution, and 2 hospitals were present in the meeting .The objective of the meeting was to identify possible stakeholders of mental health and assess areas of their involvement in a) Policy making, b) Funding and c) Implementing evidence based treatment/services. At the end of the meeting, a document containing a list of potential stakeholders (individual, group or an organization), their current areas of engagement and their roles in strengthening MHPSS was envisioned.
Discussion were made on the potential stakeholders for mental health. At the policy level, Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) and other government bodies that are working in health sector possibly mental health as well such as Nepal Health Training Center (NHTC), Primary Health Care Revitalization Division (PHC-RD) and Curative Division were identified as the primary stakeholders. They empasized that the policy for mental health should be driven by evidence and therefore identified the utmost need for investment in conducting studies on mental health. At present, this could be done by integrating mental health indicators in the Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), Health Management Information System (HMIS), and strengthening the documentation system from the primary health facility level. Showing the gap in cost effectiveness study in mental health, one participant suggested that health economists could be an important stakeholder to conduct such studies and advocate for the need to include mental health in the national priority and close collaboration should exist between different academic institutions, research institutions, civil societies and government sector in order to be informed about mental health activities.
Because most mental health projects are donor driven and are usually project based, they are often short-lived and do not make an impact as it is supposed to. Pointing out the limitations in sustainability, promoting the community ownership of mental health activities is very essential. Allocating certain amount for mental health from the total health budget of the VDC could be an option that will help sustain mental health programmes even if the project period is over. Advocacy on this regards was recommended by the participants.
With the country transitioning to federal state, they also discussed that the stakeholders may vary in health system along with the country’s system. For example, until now district health office (DHO) was the initial point to lobby but as the state moves to federalism, this may not limited to the district level only but may expand to the village municipality. Considering these issues, the facilitator concluded the discussion thanking all the participants and informed that an e-survey would soon follow to discuss more on the topic.