In Africa, approximately 100 million people suffer from depression. For African women, who are afflicted at twice the rate of men, depression is the number one cause of disability. Due to the lack of investment in mental health services in Africa, 85 percent of Africans with depression—including 66 million women—have no access to effective treatment.
Depression is not simply a feeling of sadness that diminishes over time. It is an illness that disables more Africans than HIV/AIDS, cancer, or heart disease and can endure for weeks, months, or even years. Symptoms include extreme fatigue, inability to concentrate or make decisions, feelings of guilt or anxiety, and a general loss of interest in life.
An African woman with depression, compared to her healthy peers, suffers greatly: she is less productive, has a lower income, and poorer physical health. If she is a mother, the negative impact extends to her entire family. Research shows that children of depressed mothers are more likely to have poor health, struggle in or miss school, and suffer from depression themselves.
StrongMinds treats depression in women and adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa using group interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT-G) facilitated by lay mental health workers. This group talk therapy model emphasizes interpersonal relationships as the root of—and source of recovery from— depression. IPT-G is an evidence-based therapeutic technique that the World Health Organization endorses to treat depression in low-resource settings.
Our group therapy is available in person or by phone. Over 8-10 sessions, lay counselors help group members identify the underlying triggers of their depression. Members work together to strategize solutions for overcoming their challenges, forming strong social bonds in the process.
Some women who complete our program go on to become StrongMinds Peer Facilitators, leading therapy groups in their own communities.
StrongMinds works through partners to layer mental health services into existing livelihood, food security, healthcare, and education programs in order to scale our reach and enhance outcomes for program participants.
StrongMinds is dedicated to evaluating the impact of our programs on the people we serve. To date, we have treated depression in more than 100,000 women and adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa and changed the lives of their 400,000 dependents and family members.