mental health

We believe that every young person has the right to quality mental health support where and when they need it, so we’ve set the following goals;

We want young people with mental health problems to be able to access the support they need to recover.

We want young people with mental health problems to be empowered to speak out and to live free from stigma and discrimination.

What is the problem we’re responding to?

  1. Globally, mental health problems affect one in ten people at any given time, making mental health problems one of the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
  2. It is both a cause and consequence of many of the other issues people experience across the world, leading to vicious cycles of discrimination, disadvantage and injustice.
  3. In developing countries like Uganda, up to 85% of people don’t receive adequate treatment for their mental health problems and even in high-income countries, this figure can be as high as 50%. This can be because services do not exist, are inaccessible and/or are poor quality. Often services are underfunded with insufficient numbers of trained mental health workers available to meet the need.

What we know works

Catching problems early is crucial and we’re working to find new and innovative ways of increasing access to effective support, including digital projects. 

  • We are working with communities and young people to champion new approaches that can expand to more people like on-ground mass, door-to-door and social media campaigns. 
  • We believe it’s important to invest in low-cost and community-based approaches, so young people can be supported to help each other, and we know that alternative approaches such as music, sports and art can be effective.
  • We are also continuing to tackle stigma and discrimination, and dispelling myths, among both communities and health workers.

How will we contribute to change?

Through partnerships, we are interested in contributing to change in the following areas:

  • Improving the mental health and supportive networks of young people experiencing or at risk of poor mental health, especially those from marginalised groups
  • Increasing the accessibility and appropriateness of mental health support services to young people who need them
  • Increasing the evidence of appropriate and effective models of care and treatment in different settings and for different groups of youth
  • Growing the social movement of young people with lived experience who are empowered to advocate for change
  • Shifting attitudes that create stigma and discrimination around mental health, enabling young people suffering from poor mental health to feel less isolated and alone
  • Contributing to the development and implementation of effective policies so mental health systems better meet young people’s needs.

How have we contributed so far?

Mental health has always been a priority for Hire the Youth, and we want to continue to build on this. To date our works have focused on four main areas:

  • Services that engage young people and support their wellbeing e.g., music, sports, music and art therapies and activities accessed in a ‘youth work’ setting.
  • Therapeutic services (complimenting statutory provision), including talking therapies, counselling and peer support services.
  • Campaigning and public policy change projects which push for people with mental health problems to have a voice in their treatment and to get access to the services they need. 
  • Anti-stigma and discrimination campaign work (e.g. Mental Health Awareness Week Uganda). We have made exceptional progress in this area and will prioritise these approaches regionally where it is crucially needed.

Since 2017 our strategy has focused on improving services where we have identified a real gap. This includes a focus on making sure marginalised young people receive mental health care and support.

In 2018 we adopted the idea of online discussions on mental health especially depression, providing targeted support to young people experiencing poor mental health.

For 2019, we focused on addressing how we can leverage cognitive behavioural therapy for young people affected by conflict and effectively combine it with other interventions.