Model & Strategy

StrongMinds focuses on the most pervasive and debilitating mental illness in Africa, which is also the number one cause of disability for women on that continent:  depression.  There are 60 million women in Africa who suffer this mental illness, and 85% of them have no access to treatment.  StrongMinds presently operates in Uganda, where 1 out of every 4 women suffers from depression.

As the only organization with a model specifically designed to scale a solution for depression throughout Africa, StrongMinds provides a simple, innovative and cost effective approach by using a community-based model of group talk therapy to treat depression among sufferers.  These talk therapy groups use a structured model over three months and help group members identify and manage their triggers of depression—without the use of trained medical personnel or medications. Members of these groups also forge strong social bonds with their fellow depressed peers, and most of these groups continue to meet over the long term after formal sessions end.  These self-perpetuating groups permit members to reinforce the skills they have learned and also enable the women to manage and prevent their future depressive episodes.

Logo
At a Glance
Founded: 2013
Health
Location of work: International, Africa
StrongMinds
515 Valley Street
Suite 6
Maplewood, NJ 07040
Treating depression at scale in Africa
Two African women speaking on the steps of an African home
Sean Mayberry
Meet Sean Mayberry

Sean is a former diplomat and social marketer who believes there are simple and cost-effective interventions which can improve an area that is often overlooked when addressing development: mental health. While living and working in Africa for nearly a decade implementing HIV/AIDS and malaria programs, he saw first-hand the struggles and lack of access for those suffering from mental illness and was inspired to create a solution. In 2013, he discovered the findings of a randomized control trial from 2002 in which group talk therapy was successfully used in Uganda to treat depression—and the idea for StrongMinds was born. Sean left his position as the CEO of a global anti-poverty organization and founded StrongMinds, using his family’s savings and volunteering full-time for the first two years, choosing to divert all the team’s limited donor funds into the Uganda program and ultimately prove that the group talk therapy model could work at scale.

IMPACT

Since starting fieldwork in 2014, StrongMinds has reached over 9,800 depressed women in Uganda.  After completing the 12-week group therapy, more than 82% of these women were depression-free. Two years later,approximately 78% of these women were still able to prevent depressive episodes. Approximately 81% of the groups continue to meet and support each other following the treatment period.

During its 2014 pilot intervention, for those women who became depression-free, self-employment increased by22%, women who could begin to save part of their income increased by 63%, women who consumed three meals a day increased by 245%, and their children missed fewer days of school (days of school missed in the last week fell from 43% to 33%).

  • Letting go of bad relationships, people and situations is important. Surround yourself with people who care about… https://t.co/LqLTHnP7GF
  • Allowing negative, angry, manipulative or violent people into your environment can significantly affect your feelin… https://t.co/GdYjliWl9S
  • Try making a list of fun things that you like to do. Your list can range from small things that you can do every da… https://t.co/yBAUUZmB0w
  • How you relax is up to you. Making sure you take time to slow down in your daily routine will allow you to think mo… https://t.co/hrjrTMXieu
  • Good mental health does not mean that we only have happy thoughts and feelings. But working to regulate your emotio… https://t.co/uM2kyUylqG
  • Good mental health is the ability to regulate your emotions in response to your real day-to-day life experiences.… https://t.co/xq544x7Gem
  • Sleep has a huge effect on mental health. Improve your sleep by avoiding heavy exercise or big meals immediately be… https://t.co/FjNAJUvtOg
  • Cutting back on sleep may temporarily get some extra work done. But soon you will be less productive and make more… https://t.co/wWABSC3z9H
  • Unhealthy foods that are fried or full of sugar and fat can weigh us down and affect our overall mood and our emoti… https://t.co/Z2EuvXqTUV
  • Healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains give our bodies and minds the nutrients we need to work at o… https://t.co/TsAOSu59MN
  • When we practice good mental health, it is easier to handle stress and other common life problems. #MakeStrongMindshttps://t.co/bYkgAoKa8E
  • Practice Makes Perfect! Mental health treatment is effective and people who seek support can recover and lead fulfi… https://t.co/xqQy9KjAOW
  • Sometimes people use alcohol and other drugs to shut off their thoughts and emotions or to escape from their feelin… https://t.co/WujVgQOJY0
  • Our routines make us more efficient and enhance our feelings of security and safety, but sometimes a little change… https://t.co/lIO3hbO51w
  • Decide what you want to achieve and write down the steps you need to realize your goals. Aim high, but be realistic… https://t.co/5KQAvCQLbz
  • Research shows that relaxation techniques and prayer may help you feel calm and enhance the effects of other mental… https://t.co/Miifb4Tkom
  • Volunteering your time or your skills is a good way to boost your mental health. You'll feel good about doing somet… https://t.co/MuaxT9hhtp
  • Depression can lead to social isolation. People with strong family or social connections generally have stronger me… https://t.co/L90RTuIk5H
  • Eat nutritious meals. Avoid cigarettes and alcohol. Drink plenty of water. #MakeStrongMinds Show your support by s… https://t.co/JpL4pZLeiu
  • Taking care of yourself physically is one easy way to improve your mental health. #MakeStrongMinds Show your suppo… https://t.co/s7vOL290xG