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Treating depression in remote communities

Research awardFellows Award programme

Funding period2015 - 2018

InstitutionMakerere University



Can HIV health workers in rural Uganda be trained to treat the mental health of their patients as well as the physical?

The project

Finding effective treatment for depression in rural northern Uganda is anything but easy.

But health workers do visit isolated communities to care for people who live with HIV. So Etheldreda is training those health workers to recognise and respond to depression too – by delivering group psychotherapy.

The process

By working within existing health systems, Etheldreda is bringing depression therapies to areas that would otherwise have been unreachable.

She trains health workers to identify the symptoms of depression and to run group psychotherapy sessions. That training is continually refined, to ensure treatment is as effective as possible.

The potential

As Uganda continues to rebuild following years of conflict, this project is helping people who live with depression to access treatment that otherwise wouldn’t have been available.

But its potential impact goes far further. Accessing effective mental health treatment is a huge problem in many isolated places – and what Etheldreda learns through this project can lay the foundations for similarly innovative outreach work elsewhere.

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