Educator Training Pilot Benefits Students and Teachers in Uganda

Educator Training Pilot Benefits Students and Teachers in Uganda

In 2021, StrongMinds launched an educator training pilot to explore the potential of instructing teachers to lead group interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT-G) sessions for adolescent students in Uganda.

StrongMinds oversees educator pilot in Uganda
StrongMinds oversees educator-led therapy sessions at Rutooma Integrated Primary School in Uganda.

After formal training, teachers deployed the skills obtained under StrongMinds’ supervision and delivered IPT-G sessions in groups consisting of 10-11 students. Initial results indicated that this model is very effective.

Students are not only experiencing a decrease in depressive episodes but are now benefitting from open communication, improved problem-solving skills, enhanced school performance, and better relationships with family post-treatment.

“Before therapy, the children were in a miserable way, and they wanted to stay alone,” said Mugararu Alex, a teacher at Rutooma Integrated Primary School. “When it was time to go home, we found that the children were not interested in leaving because often, at home, there were some big problems with their parents.”

Alongside parent-child conflict, students were performing poorly in class with scores of 19%.

StrongMinds staff supervise educator pilot among adolescents
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14. StrongMinds is working to end this statistic by implementing early intervention and prevention programming in schools.

“Now, children have started performing well. They are collaborating with their teachers. They are collaborating with their parents. This means that now, they are in a good way,” Alex said.

Aside from the student’s advancements, many teachers are now making the most of knowledge acquired from StrongMinds Mental Health Facilitators.

Usually, teachers receive general counseling education through institutions that promote mass assemblies where students cannot express themselves openly.

Educator pilot at Rutooma Integrated Primary School
Symptoms of depression can often fill our cups with problems. This leaves little space for other things in life. By using the problem cups tool, facilitators initiate meaningful discussions about students’ feelings and assess mood changes week-by-week.

But StrongMinds’ guidance has changed how these educators interact with their students and conduct these discussions moving forward.

“I feel like I am teaching differently now because of the training I received,” said another teacher who participated in the educator training pilot, Kembabazi Anna. “Now, I don’t turn my back on people, and I’ve adjusted my language. I act like a counselor, and I have the knowledge to learn why a child may not be performing.”

“After training, I have changed my methods of teaching because I realize I am interacting with students who may have problems,” Alex added. “I must handle my teaching style differently to help them perform well.”