Mental Health Gap Action Programme: a theoretical model of barriers to implementation by health personnel in Chocó, Colombia

Vélez Botero et al.


Mental, neurological, and substance use (MNS) disorders have a high prevalence in Colombia and there is a treatment gap. The World Health Organization (WHO) Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) has various components. The mhGAP 2.0 Intervention Guide, aimed at improving primary health care, is a guide for the assessment and management of MNS disorders based on clinical decision-making protocols. The objective of this study was to determine the barriers that may hinder the program implementation process.


A qualitative study with content analysis was conducted in three phases: i) study preparation, organization, and presentation; ii) open coding, categorization, and abstraction of contents; and iii) information analysis. The study included semi-structured interviews with 21 people involved in the provision of mental health services in Chocó (Colombia): five medical doctors, seven nurses, and three psychologists, as well as six professionals working in the administrative area of the department's health secretariats. The perceptions of these stakeholders were explored. Open-ended questions were asked to explore experiences with the process, as well as the barriers identified in practice.


Four different thematic categories were identified: intersectoral action, long-standing challenges, opportunities, and suitability of tools.


A theoretical model of barriers to implementation of the mhGAP program was constructed, based on stakeholder perceptions. Controlling barriers is perceived as a possible way to contribute significantly to population health.

Article's language
Original research