Mental health problems are common in our societies and result in impaired functioning, increased need for health care and marked deterioration among the different domains of quality of life. In Zambia, mental health problems are a growing public concern. The objective of the study was to explore factors affecting the ability of health care providers to detect mental health problems at PHC level in Lusaka District.
Methods: This was a mixed method study which was conducted with a sample of 148 health care providers from Primary Health Care services. The study used simple random and purposive sampling methods to select the respondents. A total number of 134 health care providers participated in a structured interview and 14 participated in the Focus Group Discussions. Quantitative and qualitative data was collected using a structured interview schedule and focus group discussion guide respectively. Quantitative data was analyzed using SPSS version 20 software computer packages. Qualitative data was analyzed using content analysis. Chi- square test and binary linear regression analysis were used for evaluation of data, with the confidence interval set at 95%, and the P value was equal or less than 0.05.
Results: Most of the participants with high knowledge in mental health (100%) were able to detect mental health problems while participants with low knowledge in mental health (53.2%) were not able to detect mental health problems. Knowledge in mental health (p-value = 0.000 (X2= 45.968, N=134)) and use of standardized guidelines (p-value = 0.000 (X2= 41.982, N=134)) were the only factors that significantly correlated with the p-value of 0.05, while workload and time were not statistically significant with a p-value > 0.05.
Conclusion: Low ability to detect mental health problems indicate that interventions such as regular in-service training and use of standardized guidelines in mental health have major implications for improving the ability of health care providers to detect mental health problems early among patients who seek primary health care services.