StrongMinds is the only organization working to scale a model to treat depression throughout Africa — starting in Uganda. Our unique community-based models of group talk therapy are simple, innovative and cost-effective.
Most African governments spend less than 1% of their health budget on mental illness. Today in Uganda, there are approximately 20 psychologists in a country of close to 35 million people. An equivalent ratio in the west would be 3,500 psychologists for a similar population.
StrongMinds treats African women with depression through talk therapy groups led by community workers. Groups consist of 10-12 women with depression, meet for 90-minute session once a week for 12 weeks.
StrongMinds was founded in 2013 and began working in Uganda in 2014. In 2014, StrongMinds piloted its innovative talk therapy approach to treating depression in Uganda in East Africa treating 514 patients. In 2015, StrongMinds treated 1,298 patients, exceeding its goal of 1,200. In 2016, the StrongMinds team is on track to exceed its goal to treat 5,100 patients in Uganda. StrongMinds’ goal is to treat 50,000 women in the first five years working in the field.
StrongMinds started working in Uganda in 2014. To date, StrongMinds has treated over 3,496 women in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, and the surrounding areas as well as in the district of Iganga in the eastern region of the country.
StrongMinds will continue its efforts in Uganda and reach more areas in the coming years.
In 2018, StrongMinds plans to expand into neighboring Kenya with activities starting in the capital city, Nairobi. In addition, StrongMinds is working with like-mined International Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to scale its innovative group therapy approach to treating depression. By strategically partnering with NGOs, StrongMinds will be able to scale and reach more depressed women getting closer to achieving our goal of treating 2 million women by 2025.
A social enterprise is an organization that leverages business strategies to maximize social improvements. In StrongMinds’ case, we focus on increasing access to mental health services by scaling treatment for depression in Africa. StrongMinds is an international non-governmental organization (INGO) and a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We work in collaboration with StrongMinds Uganda under a Master Collaboration Agreement.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is a common mental disorder and is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. WHO estimates that close to 10% of the world’s population is suffering from this mental illness and based on the total population of Africa (1.1 billion people – according to Population Reference Bureau) that would mean almost 110 million Africans are suffering from depression. Experts agree women are affected by depression at twice the rate of men. With more than 60% of 110 million depressed being women, 66 million is a reasonable estimate of the number of women suffering from depression in Africa.
Depression affects all areas of a woman’s life. By reducing depression, the benefits to the women and her family include:
StrongMinds’ goal is to have patients score under a 5 on the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), which has nine questions. The PHQ-9 is a multipurpose instrument used for screening, diagnosing, monitoring and measuring the severity of depression. Scoring 1-4 is evaluated as Minimal Depression, and in lay terms this means that the individual is not able to be diagnosed with any significant level of depression, and is thus, Depression Free.
No, StrongMinds, is focused on group talk therapy to stop the depression epidemic in Africa. By treating women in a group setting, StrongMinds is able to treat more women with depression.
If an individual is not progressing with group therapy, StrongMinds will refer the participant to a facility that is capable of addressing their personal needs. StrongMinds will continue to be in contact to ensure proper care.
Yes! StrongMinds is a tax-exempt not-profit organization under IRS code 501(c)3. EIN: 46-2090059
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Here are some great resources that will help you better understand depression and the impact on the lives of these women and their families in Africa.