Barriers and facilitators to accessing adolescents' mental health services in Karachi: Users and providers perspectives

Document Type



Community Health Sciences


Introduction: Adolescents' Mental Healthcare (MHC) is influenced by numerous factors, and adolescents occasionally seek professional help for mental health (MH) issues. These factors become more complex within low-middle-income countries (LMICs); therefore, this study aims to understand barriers and facilitators to access mental health services among adolescents aged 10 to 19 years old from the perspective of users (parents) and providers (Mental Healthcare Providers - MHPs).
Method: Using a qualitative exploratory design, a semi-structured interview guide was developed using Andersen's health service utilization model. In-depth interviews were conducted with MHPs (n = 21) and parents of adolescents (n = 19) in the psychiatry department of public and private hospitals in Karachi, from October-December 2021. Data was thematically analyzed using an inductive approach.
Result: The findings revealed a consensus of users and providers in all three categories of the Andersen model and referred the compulsion as the major driving force to MHC access and utilization rather than personal choices. Within pre-disposing, need, and enabling factors; the participants highlighted a unique perspective; users regarded frequent migration, daily wage loss, and women's societal status as barriers while the need for marriage and patient willingness were stated as facilitators. Whereas, MHPs indicated societal tolerance, the burden on the health system, and the absence of Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMH) services as major gaps in service delivery.
Conclusion: Service utilization is mainly facilitated by the severity of illness rather than healthy choices and beliefs, and accessibility and affordability. It is therefore imperative to prioritize adolescent MH through promotion and prevention approaches and address service delivery gaps to prevent treatment delays via task-shifting and capacity building of the health workforce.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

BMC Health Services Research