WHAT WE DO
Finemind is non-profit organization that supports community mental health of the people of Agago in northern Uganda. Through a peer-to-peer support system that recruits, trains, and empowers community members – including clinical and non-clinical – we provide people with what they need to recover from common mental health disorders.
We train lay workers, local community counsellors, medical professionals, officials and community leaders to respond to mental health issues like depression and anxiety. We also host mental health camps and clinics to offer care where it is most needed. We work in partnership with local NGOs to build capacity in order to ensure mental health provision is integrated within the community.
Our curriculum focuses on equipping our trainees with the knowledge, skills, and competencies to offer effective psychosocial support for individuals struggling with depression and anxiety.
Upon completion of the training intensive, our community health workers (CHWs) offer a collaborative stepped care intervention. CHWs offer case management and all non-drug psychosocial interventions with the aid of primary care physicians and a mental health specialist (MHS). Stepped care includes psychoeducation, antidepressant therapy, Interpersonal Counseling (IPC), and if necessary, referral to an MHS.
Collaborative Stepped Care
Referral pathway for increasingly severe cases of depression
This is the process by which the patient is given an explanation about what her illness is and is provided with practical advice to deal with her problems. It is the first step in the collaborative stepped care model and offered to all depressed patients irrespective of illness severity. A successful session explains the mind body link, or the connection between a patient’s stress and prevailing symptoms. It explains the patient’s diagnosis, offers hope, and affirms the patient’s role as a sick person. It also gives advice for managing specific symptoms of depression, teaches a relaxation technique via a breathing exercise, and manages suicidal risk, as needed.
Antidepressant Therapy (ADTs)
The term antidepressant refers to a group of medicines that are used in the treatment of depression that is of a moderate to severe intensity. This is the second step in the model.
Interpersonal Counseling (IPC)
Interpersonal Counseling is a treatment in which the patient learns to understand the relationship between her symptoms and interpersonal triggers, which are events or reasons that sets off these symptoms. IPC categorizes interpersonal problems under four broad problem areas: grief, interpersonal disputes, life changes, and loneliness/social isolation. This is the third step in the model.
Referral to a Mental Health Specialist (MHS) is indicated for patients with any of the following: high suicide risk, unusual symptoms that may indicate mental illness other than depression (i.e. unreasonable suspiciousness, severe behavioral disturbances), significant memory problems or confused behavior, moderate to severe depression symptomology requiring specialist care, lack of response to treatment, and dual mental diagnoses (i.e. moderate depression and alcohol dependence).