Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London and London School of Hygiene, London, UK.
This article describes the construction and use of a systematic structured method of mental health country situation appraisal, in order to help meet the need for conceptual tools to assist planners and policy makers develop and audit policy and implementation strategies. The tool encompasses the key domains of context, needs, resources, provisions and outcomes, and provides a framework for synthesizing key qualitative and quantitative information, flagging up gaps in knowledge, and for reviewing existing policies. It serves as an enabling tool to alert and inform policy makers, professionals and other key stakeholders about important issues which need to be considered in mental health policy development. It provides detailed country specific information in a systematic format, to facilitate global sharing of experiences of mental health reform and strategies between policy makers and other stakeholders. Lastly, it is designed to be a capacity building tool for local stakeholders to enhance situation appraisal, and multisectorial policy development and implementation.