A Model for Developing StrongMinds

Since 2013, StrongMinds has been focused on creating a model that is effective in treating depression and easy to scale to reach the most women with depression in Africa. This drive has led to the creation of a model of intervention that is uniquely StrongMinds. StrongMind cards: 1. Personal well being; 2. Treatment access; 3. Physical health; 4. Child impact; 5. Household functioning; 6. Economic productivity

Using Group Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT-G) as the foundation, StrongMinds has adapted and enriched this approach with specific role playing activities and interactive visuals and charts. Each talk therapy group lasts 12 weeks, with the women coming together each week for 60-90 minutes. Each session time varies due to the level of emotion being exhibited by the group members.

The 12 weeks are broken into three phases, each with distinct objectives:

  • Initial Phase: Group Sessions 1-4 This phase focuses on creating initial bonds between group members and building rapport with one another so women feel comfortable sharing personal information and discussing the reasons for their depression.
  • Middle Phase: Group Sessions 5-9 This phase ensures that all members are actively engaged and helping each other by making suggestions regarding one another’s problems.This is also the phase where important progress is made for members to fully understand all the symptoms and triggers of depression.
  • Termination Phase: Group Sessions 10-12 This phase focuses on preparing members to end formal sessions. Members are reminded to continually identify their own triggers of depression in the future and what they should do to respond. Individual action plans are created and reviewed.

The StrongMinds model is achieving the same results as academic studies. Women who complete our talk therapy groups not only resolve their current depressive state — they also learn coping strategies to help prevent future depressive episodes.

Roughly 75% of the groups continue to meet after formal sessions conclude. This continual connection allows the women to work through their depression triggers together as they arise. In addition, many groups form Village Saving and Loans Associations, which provide financial stability and allow the women to better provide for their families.