Kampala, Uganda – September 19, 2023 – Although 80% of the global population lives in low- and middle-income countries), high-income countries account for 90% of global mental health resources (WHO, 2005). Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and it is estimated that at least 20% of women in Africa experience depressive disorders, and 85% have no access to effective treatment.
According to The Lancet Global Commission, “Access to mental health services remains very poor and fragmented for most people worldwide. Although effectual interventions exist and affordable methods for their delivery have been developed, the scale-up of quality mental health services has not happened in most countries.”
StrongMinds is an NGO based in Uganda and Zambia providing depression treatment across sub-Saharan Africa. StrongMinds is working to close the mental health treatment gap for women and adolescents through talk therapy groups led by lay community-based facilitators, many of whom have little to no formal education but do have lived experience with depression.
In this “task-shifting” model, StrongMinds counselors implement a manualized, time-bound framework of group talk therapy known as group interpersonal therapy (IPT-G). This globally validated model emphasizes relationships as the root of – and source of recovery for – depression.
In therapy groups, members find a safe space to share with peers about their worries and struggles. Over 6-10 sessions, counselors guide structured discussions to help participants identify the underlying triggers of their depression and examine how their current relationships and depression are linked. Together, they strategize solutions to their problems, learn coping mechanisms, practice interpersonal skills, and identify support structures that they can continue to rely on after therapy ends.
StrongMinds’ lay counselors are former therapy group members or local volunteer health workers who receive training to facilitate StrongMinds therapy groups in their communities. IPT-G is well-studied in low- and middle-income countries and is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a first-line depression intervention in resource-poor settings. The WHO also recommends task-shifting to close the mental health treatment gap in areas where access to depression treatment is scarce.
Over the past ten years, StrongMinds has provided free group talk therapy for depression to more than 300,000 individuals, transforming our clients’ lives, and improving the lives of their 1.2 million family members. Please view our video to learn how StrongMinds’ unique data-centered model is changing lives and improving local communities through peer support.
Founded in 2013, StrongMinds treats depression in women and adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa. Our well-researched group talk therapy model using interpersonal group therapy (IPT-G) is delivered by trained lay community members, enabling us to reach tens of thousands of people each year. On average, more than 80% of the women treated are free of depression at the conclusion of therapy. The results are sustained six months after treatment ends. StrongMinds is the only organization rapidly scaling a solution to the depression epidemic in Africa.
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