Building a Community Based Mental Health Program for Adolescents in Botswana: Stakeholder Feedback.

Year of Publication


Date Published

2021 Nov 26

ISSN Number



<p><strong>BACKGROUND: </strong>When planning interventions for adolescents, adult interventions should not be used 'as is' in youth settings. Stakeholder engagement can help understand the overall adolescent mental health ecosystem and adapt existing evidence-based interventions for the youth.</p>

<p><strong>OBJECTIVE: </strong>To understand the overall mental health needs of adolescents in Botswana and the necessary adaptations required for an adolescent lay counselor based intervention in the country.</p>

<p><strong>METHODS: </strong>We used the theory of change model and the nominal group technique in five stakeholder meetings. Meetings were held to discuss the mental health needs of youth in Botswana and identify priorities for a lay counsellor based intervention modelled after the Friendship Bench intervention, an existing mental health intervention for adults.</p>

<p><strong>RESULTS: </strong>The root causes of mental health problems among Botswana's youth identified by stakeholders included limited mental health knowledge among the youth and the community, family problems, poor communication, low self-esteem, the rapid growth of technology, and biological/genetic predisposition. Structurally barriers included: mental illness-related stigma, lack of psychosocial support, incomplete follow up for health services, cultural beliefs about mental illness, and fragmented mental health services. The stakeholders envisage a program that could empower adolescents and youth counselors to address mental health concerns for a healthier community. The group identified and prioritized several key elements of an effective lay counselor intervention.</p>

<p><strong>CONCLUSIONS: </strong>A diverse group of community stakeholders can illustrate critical mental health needs and elements that countries could use to adapt and contextualize a lay counsellor based mental health intervention for new populations such as the youth.</p>



Alternate Title

Community Ment Health J




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