Mental health policy development: case study of Cambodia
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Objective: To identify key issues in the mental health policy development process in Cambodia that will contribute to an increased understanding of how mental health policy gets on the public policy agenda, how it stays there and why policy implementation fails or succeeds. The research was formative because mental health policy analysis is a young and newly emerging discipline. Method: A retrospective case study methodology was used to research the development of the draft Cambodian Mental Health Plan 2003-2022. Ten key informants involved in the policy development process were interviewed using a semistructured questionnaire designed to collect qualitative data about the policy formation process, stakeholders and context. Results: The research identified key issues influencing mental health policy development. These are the need to include the Ministry of Health (MoH) in the development of mental health plans; the significance of timing; the usefulness of mental health plans; the impact of the post-conflict context on policy development; and the evolution of stakeholder groups and their need to learn how to debate the merits of mental health reform. Conclusions: The findings are formative given methodology limitations. However, important insight is provided into the dynamics of the policy development processes that occurred in Cambodia. This allows the generation of important hypotheses for future mental health policy process research in both Cambodia and other post-conflict developing countries.