StrongMinds empowers impoverished African women by treating depression at scale and enables these women and their families to lead more healthy, productive, and satisfying lives.
StrongMinds is a social enterprise founded in 2013 that provides life-changing mental health services to impoverished African women. Since many African women cannot even begin to tackle issues like poverty and economic development until they overcome depression, StrongMinds provides treatment for women who suffer from this pervasive and debilitating mental illness. By providing group talk therapy delivered by community health workers, StrongMinds is the only organization scaling a cost-effective solution to the depression epidemic in Africa.
StrongMinds grew from the conviction of Sean Mayberry, a former diplomat and social marketer, that mental health is often overlooked in international development, with devastating results.
While living and working in Africa for nearly a decade implementing HIV/AIDS and malaria programs, Sean saw firsthand the struggles and lack of access to treatment for those suffering from mental illness and was inspired to find a solution. In 2013, he read about the findings of a randomized controlled trial in Uganda from 2002, that had remarkable success treating depression with group interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT-G). The study, by researchers from Johns Hopkins University (JHU), used lay community workers with only a high school education. The idea for StrongMinds was born.
Sean left his position as the CEO of a global antipoverty organization and founded StrongMinds, concentrating in Uganda, the site of the previous randomized controlled trial. The organization was incorporated in the United States in February 2013 with no funds. Sean used his family’s savings and volunteered full-time for the first 18 months until supporters were identified.
StrongMinds was data-driven from the beginning, conducting two to test the efficacy of the model, and continued to study and fine-tune the model as more and more women received treatment.
StrongMinds has now treated over 140,000 women with depression to date in Uganda and Zambia. On average, 80% of the women we treat remain depression-free six months after the conclusion of therapy. When our clients become depression-free, are able to work more and their kids eat and attend school more regularly. They also report that they no longer feel isolated, and that they have people to turn to for social support.