Say No to Stigma

Say No to Stigma

Principal Investigator: Ozge Sensoy Bahar, PhD and Penina Acayo Laker, MFA

Project Team Members: Proscovia Nabunya, PhD

Current mental health services are severely under-equipped in sub-Saharan Africa. Uganda reports that when screened in primary care clinics, 12 to 29% of children present with mental health symptoms. There is widespread misconception toward mental illness and its etiology as well as stigmatization of people with mental illnesses, including children, which results in little or no intention to seek help.

“Say no to Stigma: Making mental health visible among school-going children in rural Uganda” is a one year pilot project funded by the Africa Initiative at Washington University. This study will develop a set of new age-appropriate, culturally relevant signage and messaging around mental health and stigma to be used in Uganda’s primary schools. The team will develop visual solutions through a set of extensive creative workshops and focus groups with children, school administrators and teachers from two primary schools in the Masaka region of Uganda. Knowledge from this study will inform the development of a larger study to test the impact of messaging in school environments and children’s perceptions of mental illness and mental health stigma.