Uganda - Peter C. Alderman Foundation: mental health support for conflict-affected communities
The Problem: One billion people, a sixth of the world's population, have directly experienced torture, terrorism or mass violence through civil war, ethnic cleansing or genocide. The victims are often left with lifelong mental disabilities preventing them from working, caring for their families, and leading productive lives. Untreated, the magnitude of the problem extends into the next generation and beyond. The Solution: The solution is to create a sustainable, culturally effective mental healthcare system. Through expert professional training of indigenous caregivers, 90% of the victims of global terrorism and mass violence suffering from traumatic depression and PTSD can be returned to productive lives. The Peter C Alderman Foundation (PCAF) is keenly interested in strengthening local mental health capacity, by building on existing skills and resources, and the best that science has to offer.
Global Health Mentor: Wietse A. Tol, PhD
Summary of My GHEFP
Name: Annisa Harsha
GHEFP: Peter C. Alderman Foundation: mental health support for conflict-affected communities.
For my GHEFP, I was a program intern for the Peter C. Alderman Foundation (PCAF) based in Kampala, Uganda. I interned with PCAF for six months (July – December 2014), and spent five of those months in Uganda. PCAF works in a public-private partnership with the government of Uganda to provide mental health support to conflict-affected communities in northern Uganda. This year, PCAF begun a joint mental health and livelihoods pilot intervention with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) with the goal of developing a care model for male former child soldiers. Fifty former child soldiers have been selected to participate in this pilot intervention. They will participate in group psychotherapy and village-level support groups provided by PCAF, and a livelihoods training provided by the IRC. The pilot project will end in 2017. The majority of my internship was spent designing a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) strategy for this joint mental health and livelihoods program for former child soldiers in Kitgum district, northern Uganda. This M&E strategy included frameworks, protocol, timelines, and monitoring tools. During my internship, I was able to travel to northern Uganda a couple of times to visit PCAF’s Kitgum site. There, I was able to consult with the staff and clients in developing the M&E strategy. I also conducted some formative research with the former child soldiers to help select monitoring tools.
I was also engaged in traveling to other PCAF sites in northern Uganda in order to interview staff and former clients on PCAF’s livelihood component. The purpose of these trips was to collect information on PCAF’s livelihoods activities and the impact of these activities on clients in order to help gain more donor support to strengthen PCAF’s livelihoods component. I produced a report as a result of these site visits with findings and recommendations. I also conducted a desk review as a part of a larger needs assessment for the South Sudanese refugee population that PCAF serves in one of its sites. Finally, I helped to create a compendium of mental health instruments used among conflict-affected populations in Uganda for PCAF to use for future research and interventions.
1. Former child soldiers served by PCAR in Kitgum
2. PCAF staff with a support group in Kitgum
3. PCAR community mobilizer in Kitgum