Mental Health Studies

Mental Health

In this article, the authors present the results of mental health research in Botswana conducted by Philip R. Opondo, et al (2020) identifying gaps in research practice and helping provide a foundation for future research.

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Our search resulted in nine thematic areas with heterogeneous subthemes. The most researched topic is the mental health aspects of people living with HIV / AIDS.

Most of the research was cross-sectional and conducted by researchers affiliated with the University of Botswana. 

The earliest study identified was in 1983 and there has been an increase in the number of subsequent and real studies.

The findings show relatively limited research results on mental health in Botswana; there were only 58 articles over a 27-year period.

A systematic review of psychiatric research in South Africa, an upper-middle-income country neighboring Botswana, identified 908 articles over a 31-year period (1966 to 1997).79 our finding that research in Botswana is limited is consistent with other studies that have identified a lack of mental health research in LMICs.

The results of this limited study may partly contribute to the neglect of mental health problems in LMICs.2 Patel and Kim suggest that the proportion of Psychiatrists in a country has a moderate influence on the results of that country's mental health research.

Botswana has very few psychiatrists to date. There has been a slight increase in psychiatrists in Botswana after the establishment of medical schools in 2009, and this has contributed to a relative increase in mental health research. Of the 21 publications from 2016, nearly half (48%) were by authors affiliated with the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Botswana.


Depression is the subject of much research, either as a single topic or in relation to other conditions. A survey of mental health research at LMICs by Razzouk et al, found that depression and anxiety disorders are among the most studied topics.

Depression may be of interest to researchers because it is often associated with other chronic conditions, and its contribution as a leading cause of disability globally, this may also explain why two local tools validated both screens for depression.

Substance use is mostly studied among college students, probably because they are a high-risk group.

In line with the findings of the global status report on drug use, alcohol is the most widely used substance in Botswana and has been found to contribute to high rates of HIV infection, which supports findings by Fisher et al in a 2007 systematic review of the relationship between HIV and alcohol use in Africa. this review identified several gaps in the research literature.

Studies other than epidemiological surveys, such as randomized controlled trials, Economic Analysis, and treatment outcome studies, are needed. Even epidemiological studies are mostly limited to a few mental health conditions; for example, almost all studies on mood disorders are about depression. 

There is no research on bipolar disorder and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, although these conditions account for most admissions to the country's only psychiatric hospital.

Although suicide is one of the leading causes of death in Botswana, there is surprisingly no research on suicide. 

Since most studies are conducted on limited populations such as hospital patients or students, it is difficult to generalize their findings to the general population.

There is a need for further studies with samples representative of the national population. 

The heterogeneity of research may be because there has not been a national research priority setting for mental health, so individual researchers or funders conduct research based on their own interests and priorities. Thus there is a need clearly set the agenda of priorities.


Opondo, P. R., Olashore, A. A., Molebatsi, K., Othieno, C. J., & Ayugi, J. O. (2020). Mental health research in Botswana: a semi-systematic scoping review. Journal of International Medical Research, 48(10), 0300060520966458.

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