In Uganda, over 1 million children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS (UNICEF). Meanwhile, over 50% of young women have experienced violence (Uganda Demographic & Health Survey), and reports of gender based violence have risen since the start of COVID-19. As such, resources for mental health and trauma healing are in demand. Yet lack of skilled workers, facilities, public budget, and deep stigma prevent the majority of the population from receiving any care, let alone effective care.
This project trains local leaders to become their own communities' mental health advocates. They learn culturally relevant knowledge and skills in crisis response and emotional first aid, peer counseling, and trauma-informed care to 1) support their own healing, 2) help survivors heal, 3) disrupt generational cycles of trauma and violence in the community, and 4) break stigma around mental health and healing.
Over the long term, building the capacity of a community to respond to their own mental health needs leads to healing and self-efficacy of survivors, which has a ripple effect on physical, mental, emotional, social, and economic health and wellbeing, at the individual and collective level. Our impact research reveals that our training graduates have also overcome addiction and depression, trained and counseled family and community, started mental health NGOs, and interrupted community violence.