Breaking the cycle of depression
In Africa, depression is the leading cause of disability in women. StrongMinds trains community workers to become mental health facilitators and lead group talk therapy sessions in poor communities, where the prevalence of depression is as high as 30%. From 2018 to 2019, StrongMinds replicated the model it had developed in Uganda, applying it in Zambia to treat 1,460 women. The success of this initial implementation in the country leaves StrongMinds poised to become the mental health technical advisor of the Zambian National Ministry of Health.
At least 66 million women suffer from depression in Africa, the leading cause of disability for women in the continent. Most of these women are simply ignored or ostracized. Social stigma, lack of awareness and lack of health-care providers are the main barriers they face.
StrongMinds trains community workers to become mental health facilitators and lead group talk therapy sessions for women with moderate and severe depression in poor communities.
From July 2018 until December 2019, we supported StrongMinds to replicate the unique model of group talk therapy it had developed in Uganda, applying it in Zambia, a country with just 1 psychiatric hospital and a total of 7 psychiatrists for a population of 17 million people.
The results achieved in the first year of implementation were excellent.
A total of 1,460 women living in one of Lusaka’s largest slums, Misisi, completed the therapy – 20% over the initial target. Led by eight newly-trained mental health facilitators, they learned about the triggers and symptoms of depression, while gaining insight that enabled 76.5% of them to be “depression-free” at the end of their series of group sessions. What’s more, the benefits of this group therapy have been far-reaching. Once free of their symptoms of depression, the participants eat better, are physically healthier, take better care of their children, and are more adept at seeking help in other areas of their lives.
StrongMinds is currently poised to become the National Ministry of Health technical advisor on mental health. Building on this early success, we are supporting StrongMinds’ further expansion in Zambia.
“In many African families, it’s really the woman who is the backbone of that household. When she is strong, the family thrives. When she is weak or suffering, the entire family suffers.”