Treating Depression in Prison Populations | StrongMinds

Treating Depression in Prison Populations

We have successfully implemented a pilot program in four prisons in Uganda, accounting for just 10% of the total incarcerated population. The prevalence of severe mental health disorders among prisoners can be five to 10 times higher than in the general population, with nearly half suffering from depression.

In 2023 we set a goal to treat 1,500 prison inmates in Uganda, but the early success of the program led us to ultimately treat 3,374 individuals in this first year. Group sessions were led by selected inmates who were trained by StrongMinds staff and received depression treatment themselves prior to leading group therapy.

The initial phase of the pilot was a success, but key takeaways emphasized the need for careful group selection, considering inmates’ backgrounds and affiliations. Barriers to participation included trust issues and cultural differences within prison communities.

We plan to integrate prison interventions into broader government partnerships throughout 2024, ensuring scalability and sustained impact.