High quality mental health care for Uganda’s remote areas

Last February we traveled to Uganda to meet our partner Peter C. Alderman Foundation (PCAF). We support them in carrying out community outreach programs in remote areas of the country. After 35 years of civil war, Uganda’s people suffer from deep emotional, psychological and social wounds, in particular depression and symptoms of PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder.

The mental health community outreach project involves multi-disciplinary teams who take mental health services to communities with limited access to care. These teams are made up of supervising psychiatrists, psychiatric clinical officers, psychiatric nurses, a psychologists/counselor, social workers and a community social worker. These teams rely on trusted community mobilizers who assist in identifying, contacting and treating patients. Another very important role of the community mobilizers is to provide psycho-education to the community.

At the Mucwini site in Kitgum, we met Lydia. Lydia is an example of how PCAF’s efforts are helping traumatized persons rebuild their lives. After assisting the women group therapy sessions, Lydia not only managed to take the reins of her life back, but is now looking forward to getting involved in the therapies to help others in her community!

That same day we met Patrick, a former child soldier who was supported by PACF and overcame his traumas and built a whole new life for himself. Now happily married and father to a beautiful little girl, PACF gave Patrick the opportunity to attend a livelihood training organized by its partner, International Rescue Committee.

This showed us once again, that PCAF’s idea is to truly build on the positive outcomes of group therapy, allowing people to function again so that they return to productive lives.

During one of our field visits we reached the Rhino Refugees Settlement in Arua, close to the border with South Sudan. In this remote area, far from any health centers, PCAF’s team organizes group therapies for South Sudanese and Congolese refugees. Refugees who are willing to meet regularly come together in the presence of a qualified social worker. During these sessions, they support each other in the hard task of overcoming their dramatic experiences and in facing the new challenges of life.

Throughout our week in Uganda, one of the things that impressed us the most was the quality and motivation of PCAF’s professional team. If it was not for their dedication, people in remote areas of Uganda would never be able to receive any type of mental health treatment.

Furthermore, it was clear to us that these doctors, social workers, nurses and everybody in the teams are not only working hard to restore the faith and dignity of their patients, but are also healing themselves. We are very proud of being part of the work that Peter C. Alderman Foundation is doing in Uganda!