Mental Health Programs

StrongMinds seeks to improve mental health in sub-Saharan Africa by using group talk therapy to treat depression in women and adolescents

What problem is StrongMinds working on?

The World Health Organization estimates that 280 million people globally are living with depressive disorders. For African women — who are affected at approximately 1.5 times the rate of men — depression is a leading cause of disability. Yet, due to the lack of investment in mental health services, approximately 85% of people in low-income countries receive no treatment.

What does StrongMinds do?

StrongMinds provides free, group talk therapy to low-income women and adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa. It scales its reach through peer-to-peer therapy, public education, and partnerships — treating tens of thousands of individuals each year.

Those who complete StrongMinds therapy have achieved clinically significant reductions in depression symptoms. More than 80% of clients are depression-free at the conclusion of treatment.

When a woman recovers from depression, her family starts to thrive. She becomes more economically productive, while her children eat more regular meals and go to school more often. For every woman who restores her mental health, an entire household benefits.

Women who complete StrongMinds therapy groups often remain in touch after the conclusion of treatment. Many report that they now have someone to turn to for social and emotional support. They are also better able to recognise the signs of depression in themselves and others and deploy the emotional tools StrongMinds taught them to prevent future depressive episodes.

What information does Giving What We Can have about the cost-effectiveness of StrongMinds?1.

We previously included StrongMinds as one of our recommended charities based on Founders Pledge’s evaluation highlighting its cost-effectiveness as part of its report on mental health. Happier Lives Institute has also reported on StrongMinds’ cost-effectiveness in StrongMinds: cost-effectiveness analysis and Happiness for the whole family. In addition, StrongMinds’ own research shows the results of its programmes.

We’ve since updated our recommendations to reflect only organisations recommended by evaluators we’ve looked into as part of our 2023 evaluator investigations; while we expect to soon look into Founders Pledge as part of this more in-depth evaluator research, we haven’t yet. As such, we don't currently include StrongMinds as one of our recommended programs but you can still donate to it via our donation platform.

Please note that GWWC does not evaluate individual charities. Our recommendations are based on the research of third-party, impact-focused charity evaluators our research team has found to be particularly well-suited to help donors do the most good per dollar, according to their recent evaluator investigations. Our other supported programs are those that align with our charitable purpose — they are working on a high-impact problem and take a reasonably promising approach (based on publicly-available information).

At Giving What We Can, we focus on the effectiveness of an organisation's work -- what the organisation is actually doing and whether their programs are making a big difference. Some others in the charity recommendation space focus instead on the ratio of admin costs to program spending, part of what we’ve termed the “overhead myth.” See why overhead isn’t the full story and learn more about our approach to charity evaluation.