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
Founder & Executive Director: Sean Mayberry
Health
Location of work: International, Africa
StrongMinds
Maplewood, NJ
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 43,000 depressed women and some men in Uganda. After completing the 12-week group therapy, more than 75% of these women were depression-free. Two years later, approximately 78% of these women were still able to prevent depressive episodes. Approximately 75% of the groups continue to meet and support each other following the treatment period.

Most recent data show: Work productivity: 12% increase in patients who report they have not missed significant work/economic activity in the past seven days.

Food Security: 13% increase in patients who report that they and their children consumed three or more meals in the past 24 hours.

School Absenteeism: 22% decrease in women who report their children missed school over the past week.

Social support: 15% increase in patients who report having someone in their lives they can turn to for support.

  • RT @mcimediahub: #DidYouKnow that @MakeStrongMinds offers free group talk therapy to low-income women and adolescents in #Uganda 🇺🇬 & #Zamb…
  • RT @mcimediahub: We are underway with the #MentalHealth Training for journalists. It will help the journalists develop their understanding…
  • FUN FACT🎉: Did you know depression is associated with reduced work performance? It’s true! This is also linked to a… https://t.co/zE5X1sGK8s
  • When a woman emerges from therapy, her life is transformed. 🦋 Suddenly, her dreams matter, she is inspired, and rea… https://t.co/Lwc5AV0g85
  • RT @UN: How are you... really? Asking that simple question can help our friends & family open up about how they are feeling. @WHO shares t…
  • RT @GoldenBootsUg: May is Mental Health Awareness month and all through this month we are going to educate each other and work towards endi…
  • Did you hear? @HappierLivesIns deemed StrongMinds’ therapy 9️⃣X more cost-effective than cash transfers. Now, each… https://t.co/x5gA4zlSvd
  • RT @UN_Women: #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth starts today! Which means it's time to check in with yourself, because mental health is just as…
  • May is #MHAM! As a valuable member of our community, you can help spread the word. 📢 Support the cause by letting u… https://t.co/23hFwLti7B
  • RT @HappierLivesIns: When you give a cash transfer, each household member experiences 86% of the benefits experienced by the recipient. For…
  • In 2021, over 80% of our clients were depression-free after therapy. Teletherapy proved to be just as effective as… https://t.co/XMsanhkKXl
  • When a woman restores her good mental health, the benefits ripple out to the community around her. We hope you will… https://t.co/ZewUuCTyIb
  • Treating depression in just one woman can have an impact that reverberates throughout families and across communiti… https://t.co/RpgVJGdZVb
  • When a woman recovers from depression, she changes the world around her. Women who complete StrongMinds therapy ach… https://t.co/fE1I4kg9Nw
  • Treating depression in just one woman can have an impact that reverberates throughout families and across communiti… https://t.co/KD72dzMXTt
  • Did you know untreated depression puts adolescents at greater risk of contracting HIV? In new HIV infections among… https://t.co/e2qI1m5H5H
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