Task Sharing or Task Dumping: Counsellors Experiences of Delivering a Psychosocial Intervention for Mental Health Problems in South Africa

Community Ment Health J. 2021 Aug;57(6):1082-1093. doi: 10.1007/s10597-020-00734-0. Epub 2020 Nov 8.


Given task-sharing mental health counselling to non-specialist providers is a recognised strategy to increase service capacity, ensuring that their training, supervision, and support needs are met is necessary to facilitate the sustainable delivery of a high-quality service. Using in-depth interviews, we qualitatively explored the experiences of 18 facility-based counsellors (FBCs) tasked with delivering a counselling intervention within chronic disease services offered within primary care facilities participating in the project MIND cluster randomised controlled trial. Findings show that project MIND training with a strong emphasis on role playing and skills rehearsal improved FBCs' confidence and competence, complemented by highly structured supervision and debriefing provided by a registered counsellor, were key strategies for supporting the implementation of task-shared mental health counselling. FBCs perceived many benefits to providing mental health counselling in primary healthcare but systemic interventions are needed for sustained implementation.

Keywords: Common mental disorders; South Africa; Task-sharing; Training and supervision.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Counseling
  • Counselors*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Psychosocial Intervention
  • South Africa