As the only social enterprise focused on scaling a solution to the depression epidemic on the subcontinent, StrongMinds is laser-focused on impact.
Recovering from Depression
Since starting fieldwork in 2014, StrongMinds has provided group talk therapy to more than 70,000 depressed women in Uganda and Zambia. Approximately 86% of clients are depression-free at the conclusion of treatment, and 75% remain depression-free six months later.
Restoring Hope to Families
When a woman recovers from depression, her family starts to thrive. She becomes more economically productive, while her children eat more regular meals and go to school more often. For every woman who restores her mental health, five members of her household benefit
Preventing Future Depressive Episodes
Women who complete our StrongMinds therapy groups continue to remain in touch after the conclusion of treatment. Many report that they now have someone to turn to for social and emotional support. They are also better able to recognize the signs of depression in themselves and others and deploy the emotional tools StrongMinds has taught them to prevent future depressive episodes.
From 2014 through 2015, StrongMinds implemented a two-phase pilot using group talk therapy for groups of 10 to 12 women. In Phase Two of the pilot, StrongMinds shortened the treatment period to 12 weeks. With a staff of six Ugandans — a country director, one mental health supervisor and four group facilitators — we treated a total of 514 women suffering from depression in the impoverished communities of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. The program exceeded our expectations: Between 94 and 97 percent of the women treated reported a significant reduction in symptoms despite the reduced number of sessions.
StrongMinds group talk therapy has lasting impact. Six- and eight-month post assessments show that three quarters of women remain free of their symptoms of depression.
StrongMinds Therapy Group’s benefits are far-reaching. Once free of their symptoms of depression, participants eat better, are physically healthier, take better care of their children, and are more adept at seeking help in other areas of their lives.
Phase 1 & 24 Follow Up Evaluations (18 and 24 Months Post-Treatment)
In late 2016, StrongMinds engaged an external team of data collectors to follow up with the very first patients treated by the organization, in 2014 and early 2015. Our goal in revisiting these patients was to understand how they are faring 18 and 24 months after StrongMinds’ therapy ended, both in terms of their mental health/depression status, and their overall well-being and the well-being of their families. This analysis is now complete and the overall results are encouraging. At 18 and 24 months post-treatment, more than two thirds of the women retained their depression-free status. The majority of women reported that they still meet with the groups formed through the StrongMinds therapy. They also reported improved focus, employment, job performance and attendance, as well as social connections at follow up. However, the average woman also reported decreased income and savings, and a reversion to baseline levels of nutrition intake for women and household members. This is probably a result of recent financial challenges in Uganda. During 2015 and 2016, the Uganda shilling depreciated 50% against the dollar. In addition, food costs continued to rise over this period with an annual inflation rate of over 16%. You can read the detailed report here.