Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Needs &
Resource Assessment in Uganda
Playing to Live recently completed a 8-month Recognition Grant financed by the Humanitarian Innovation Fund. This grant includes two target components: (1) a Literature Review and (2) a Needs and Resource Assessment. The Literature Review identified best practices for para-professionals providing mental health care and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services for adolescent female refugees and internally displaced persons. The Needs and Resource Assessment identified current MHPSS services for children and adolescents living in four key refugee settlements in Uganda. Through the Needs and Resource assessment, Playing to Live seeks to highlight the vital work of organizations currently implementing services in addition to identifying gaps and barriers to care.
Adolescents in refugee contexts face a multiplicity of challenges. It is known that refugee populations exhibit high levels of individual and community-wide trauma due to displacement, war, and other sources of adversity. High levels of trauma are known to harm individual health and psychological wellbeing, as well as inhibit self-efficacy when services to build effective coping skills are not provided. In addition, children and adolescent refugees in Uganda face limited prospects for gaining formal schooling and building vocational skills, which inhibit their potential to engage in income generating activities.
The information gathered during this recognition project aimed to build recognition for the current MHPSS services provided by organizations in Uganda and to identify potential needs to integrate and increase MHPSS support, through expressive arts programming, to aid adolescent girls who have faced trauma due to war and displacement. Additionally, Playing to Live sought to highlight potential opportunities for future partnerships and development of a pilot program seeking to address the dual psychological and economic challenges facing young adolescent refugees. Potential future pilot programming would provide crucial MHPSS support interventions, through an expressive arts program, potentially paired with an economic opportunity structure. Playing to Live believes that expressive arts will not only help young girls recover from adversity and trauma but also unlock their potential to benefit from job training programs, facilitating successful entry into the workforce.
The potential impact of this project is extensive. The primary goal was to identify best practices for MHPSS programs for children and adolescents in emergency settings globally and gain a deeper understanding of current programming provided in Uganda. A secondary goal was to identify key organizations working with the target population in Uganda and develop a mapping of service provision, program models, program locations, program outcomes, and barriers to care to highlight the vital work currently provided with the humanitarian community. A tertiary goal was to assess the availability of economic opportunities for adolescent girls in the settlements, which could be paired with the future pilot and large-scale program development. The impact of this programming, built from this research, is expected to potentially include the following benefits for participants: decrease in psychological stress symptoms; increase in self efficacy, self-esteem, and healthy coping skills; and an increase in economic independence. Future development of programming could inform best practices and establish a model of care for aid organizations worldwide as they seek to help the growing refugee population.
We would like to thank the following for funding this important project: