“The majority of Ugandans are often of the opinion that mental illness is largely incurable or, at any rate, unresponsive to orthodox medical practices. People’s attitudes towards mental illness are strongly influenced by traditional beliefs in supernatural causes and remedies.” (Godfrey)
About mental health in Uganda
Approximately one in four people around the world will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime. Those affected can face isolation, exclusion from work and family life, increased poverty, high healthcare costs and abuses of their human rights.
Uganda was one of the five pilot countries for the Time to Change Global programme. We worked in partnership to run a campaign to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city.
Uganda passed a new Mental Health Act in 2018. Before this, the act dated back to 1964. According to the Ministry of Health, the country has 33 psychiatrists, 259 psychiatric clinical officers and about 500 mental health staff in general nursing.
Read more about mental health provision in Uganda in the World Health Organisation Mental Health ATLAS.
Focus group research carried out by Global Research Insights on behalf of Time to Change Global shows a number of factors which lead to negative perceptions of mental health in Uganda. These include beliefs that mental health problems result in violence, beliefs that mental health problems are a result of being bewitched and a lack of accurate information among the public.
Read the full research report from Global Research Insights, Understanding attitudes related to mental health in Uganda (PDF).
“I want to share my experience because I believe it’s going to help me heal myself and others. I want to be the trailblazer for people struggling in silence to get help” (Nsubuga Allan)
About our partner in Uganda
Mental Health Uganda (MHU) was established in 1997 in response to the overwhelming marginalization, isolation and abuse of rights of people with psycho-social disabilities, users of psychiatric services, and their families.
As a Disabled People’s Organisation, Mental Health Uganda seeks to create a unified voice that influences the provision of services and opportunities, in favour of people with personal experience of mental illness in Uganda. They do this through capacity building, networking, advocacy and partnerships.
Alongside our international partner CBM, we worked with Mental Health Uganda to co-develop, test, deliver and evaluate a pilot anti-stigma campaign in Kampala, the capital of Uganda.
We share Mental Health Uganda’s fundamental vision that people with experience of mental illness can speak out and lead change.