Mental health program for former child soldiers

Omoana’s approach
Omoana works through integrated approaches for vulnerable youth. In the war-affected region of Northern Uganda, its activities include an agriculture training centre, a microcredit project, a scholarship and a mental health program. All these intend to give psychosocial and economic support that will promote cohesion in the community of Northern Uganda in order to help it rebuild itself and have its children look towards a brighter future. In order to do that, Omoana works in collaboration with partner organizations.
Partner Organization: vivo International (short for „victim’s voice), partner of Omoana for this project, is an international nongovernmental organisation working in the field of Mental Health and Human Rights focusing on the psychological well-being of people affected by war, conflict and torture. In Uganda, vivo is offering trauma-focused mental health rehabilitation services through the „vivo Outpatient Clinic for Survivors of Violence and Trauma“.
Context: In Northern Uganda, a conflict between the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Government lasted from 1986 to 2006. 60’000 children were abducted to be trained as soldiers. The situation in Uganda is now peaceful. However, up to 50% of the formerly abducted youth and young adults still suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 
Main activities:
  • Theoretical and on-the-job training of local lay counsellors
  • psychodiagnostic assessments for mental health disorders of beneficiaries of Omoana; if indicated: treatments of survivors of trauma and violence with Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET); 
  • if indicated provision of suicidal intervention;
  • general counselling for other mental-health related topics as alcohol abuse or domestic violence;
  • on-going weekly supervision meetings for the counsellors by an expert psychologist; 
  • follow-up interviews of clients that received NET to evaluate the effects of the treatment on the symptoms of PTSD.
Beneficiaries: 290 people by 2017, of whom a majority are former child soldiers who are now adults and who already benefit from microcredit and agriculture programs. This number may seem low, but it’s important to mention that they suffered multiple traumas, which means they need individualized therapies that require attention and resources. If we consider their families, who are as well greatly affected by their situation, there are 1’827 final beneficiaries*.

*Based on an average family size of 6.3 family members in Northern Uganda 

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