In July 2022, Eastern Uganda’s Mbale District was hit by a catastrophic flood, leaving a trail of ruin and destruction. Susan was just one of many who lost her home in the deluge as the bursting banks of the neighboring rivers Nabuyonga and Namatala overwhelmed the area. What’s more, Susan’s husband could not work after the catastrophe, and their children were forced to leave their private school due to a lack of income and shelter. Overwhelmed and devastated, Susan retreated into a life of isolation.
That is until she encountered a StrongMinds volunteer who introduced her to the concept of depression. “I felt like the whole world had crumbled around me,” Susan said. “I was struggling to cope. Then, I met a StrongMinds volunteer who talked to me about depression and encouraged me to join a therapy support group.” Initially reluctant, Susan ultimately decided to give therapy a chance. Little did she know it would be life-changing. Over the next eight weeks, StrongMinds would become her lifeline.
“I connected with other people who had experienced similar losses and who understood what I was going through. I learned how to manage my stress and take care of my mental health during such a difficult time,” Susan said. Beyond emotional support, the group offered practical advice on rebuilding her life after the floods. “They suggested that I start brickmaking, as I had land that could be used for it,” Susan said. Embracing the suggestion, Susan and her family embarked on this new journey, generating income and using the bricks they crafted to construct a new home.
Throughout StrongMinds’ therapy, Susan understood that the effects of climate change extend far beyond the physical devastation caused by natural disasters, often leaving a profound impact on mental health. “Losing everything I had was a traumatic experience,” she admits, “but with the help of the StrongMinds support group sessions, I was able to overcome depression and find ways to rebuild my life.” Today, Susan is forever grateful to StrongMinds for the counseling she received and for the chance to share her story of resilience and hope.7