Aim: To identify barriers and enablers to the provision of mental health care by Primary Health Organisations (PHOs) in the northern region.
Methods: Information was generated from structured interviews with 22 of the 25 PHOs and the four District Health Boards (DHBs) in the northern region.
Results: Of the 22 PHOs who participated in the study, 17 had at least one specific mental health initiative; others had up to five initiatives. PHOs that were funded to provide one of the 41 Ministry of Health mental health pilot projects had more mental health initiatives in place. Barriers and enablers to providing mental health care occurred in areas such as workforce capacity, funding, infrastructure, and limited interest in transfer of care from secondary to primary care.
Conclusions: Barriers to providing mental health care within the primary sector include stigma, lack of training, communication between sectors, funding and perceptions of sector roles. Factors which enable provision of mental health care are availability of training, good communication between sectors, use of available and new funding mechanisms and community involvement. Further research at the practice and practitioner level is necessary to fully understand development of mental health care within the primary care sector.