PEER SUPPORT GROUPS:
Small-group therapy is an excellent means of mental health care in Africa that is not reliant on extensive Western aid. Its communal focus also makes it well-suited to African culture.
The IPT-G program designed by Johns Hopkins has been life-changing for depressed women in Uganda, where 1 in 4 women are affected. Since we began implementing the program in 2014, it’s helped participants work together to identify their illness triggers and set up strategies to overcome them. Since depression is episodic, the women not only resolve their current symptoms — they also gain new skills to prevent future episodes.
These women don’t just learn to manage their depression. They form incredibly strong social bonds. Often, groups continue meeting long after the 12-week sessions end.
That’s where the next phase of our program begins: with the women who’ve remained depression-free because of therapy we put in place. Who better to stem the silent epidemic than the first generation of graduates from a program that is fighting this scourge, one woman at a time?
Therapy sessions need no longer be led by facilitators trained for 2 weeks in IPT-G. African women who successfully complete their therapy sessions are ideal leaders for groups in their own communities.
With volunteers who believe strongly in a method that’s given them hope, we can further our mission to help African women help themselves. For a few dollars or even cents per person, this self-perpetuating peer support group model will go a long way toward solving the depression problem in Uganda and beyond.
To borrow from an old proverb, we’re teaching women to fish. They can teach their family and friends paralyzed by mental illness to fish as well.
Making Strong Minds: [Vimeo link here]