The United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has announced its first-ever mental health-focused project in Uganda, providing funding to the tune of 1 million dollars. 

A statement released by the US Mission in Uganda on Thursday indicates that the three-year project will be implemented by an NGO Strong Minds, where they will focus on building local evidence-based mental health and development in addition to increasing locally available, evidence-informed, affordable mental health services by training community members in how to effectively deliver these services.  

This funding comes at a time when Uganda is battling an increasing mental illness crisis with studies showing millions of Uganda to be living with a form of mental illness either knowingly or unknowingly.  

Data from 2020 and 2022 show that Uganda is ranked among the top six African countries in rates of depressive disorders and has the second-highest suicide rate among East African males ages 18-35.  

Owing to this challenge, Uganda’s Ministry of Health has embarked on an awareness campaign urging Ugandans to seek professional help when burdened with thoughts and worries. According to the statement, the new money comes as a sign of commitment to this agenda. 

“The U.S. government recognizes that good mental health is fundamental to achieving and sustaining development objectives, in Uganda and around the world,” said USAID/Uganda Mission Director Daniele Nyirandutiye.  

The statement points out that people living with untreated mental health issues are statistically less physically healthy, have lower economic and academic achievement, and are more likely to be crime victims and to be recruited into criminal or extremist activity. Unaddressed mental health issues can harm individuals, families, and societies, and considerably influence development results.   

Meanwhile, this project will work across existing USAID programming throughout Uganda in child protection, health, education, economic growth, and human rights to train community members in how to provide evidence-informed, effective psychoeducation and mental health screening and treatment.  

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