BasicNeeds Model: Scaling up Community Mental Health Care in Kenya

Project location(s): Kajiado County and Kisumu County

Project Overview

The BasicNeeds Model is a collection of community, social, health, and economic interventions designed to improve the wellbeing of individuals with mental health conditions, their families and the communities in which they live. At its heart, the BasicNeeds Model is an approach that promotes individual wellbeing and brings about positive changes in the way that people with mental health conditions and psychosocial disabilities can participate in society and realise their rights.

How was the Model developed?

The concept of the BasicNeeds Model was developed by the social entrepreneur Chris Underhill in the late 1990’s, who recognized that resources and care for mental health were woefully lacking in low and middle income contexts. The BasicNeeds Model was based on the principle that the community was the essential crucible for support, and this was where many of the required skills lay hidden. The Model was first field-tested in 2000 in India, led by D.M Naidu, and in 2001-2002 the same was done in Northern Ghana with Lance Montia as the lead.
For 20 years the Model has been implemented in countries across the globe. In almost 200 project sites the Model has brought support to people with mental health conditions in their communities for the first time. BasicNeeds has worked with over 100 implementing partners since its inception and reached over 180,000 people. It has been adapted for use in high-income countries and used in the USA and the UK.
The learning from this significant experience, along with a series of reviews, evaluations, and studies allowed us to update the model in 2020-22. This review takes all of that evidence along with recent and emerging research into what works best in community mental health.

What impact does the BasicNeeds Model have?

The BasicNeeds Model has been extensively evaluated and researched, and been shown to:

  • Improve the quality of life and social capital of individuals with mental health conditions
  • Support, and sustain community action by people affected, and promote agency
  • Improve health systems so that they are inclusive of people with mental health conditions and so that the quality of services is as good as it can be
  • Improve the economic wellbeing of individuals and society by focusing on disrupting the cycle of poverty and disability

Implementing partner(s)