Our Mental Health Program:

Focus on improving mental wellbeing and helping people function better – Sports model

The Ugandan young population has gone through traumatic experiences that challenge its coping abilities and strength to resist external shocks. Secondly, due to the range of cultural limitations around the issues of mental health, the relevance of sport across a range of mental health problems, and the underlying stigma often associated with it, APPCO focuses on promoting the use of sports-based approaches that support wellbeing, improve functioning and reduce distress resulting from trauma and stigma.

At APPCO we believe in building social support networks around the person with mental health problems as a recovery strategy. This builds on a person’s perception that they are cared for and that they know people who can help them. It’s an important component of wellbeing, and our research has suggested that Programmes that increase participants’ perception of social support are likely to be more successful in improving wellbeing and mental health. This builds our strong stand for use of sports and other physical activities to improve the self-esteem and coping abilities of people with mental health problems especially in conflict and post-conflict settings.

This is a person’s confidence in their worth or abilities. Another important component of wellbeing, our research suggested that physical activity can boost self-esteem by giving participants the sense that they had achieved something through participation. Improving skills can give participants a sense of mastery, and improved perceptions of their competence, physical skills, and body image.

There is a recognition that sport is likely to be highly acceptable, non-stigmatizing, the route to improved mental health. therefore, at APPCO we consider the role of sport in improving wellbeing where stigma is present. This is because while in some contexts a medical diagnostic label can be valuable to someone, for example in helping someone to find a community with shared experiences, in places where there is still a high stigma around mental health problems this is much less likely to be true.

Our Projects on Mental health:

Strengthening community sports structures for improved mental health;

this is a three-year project geared towards empowering young people in their communities to use sports and physical activities like dramas, music, dances, and debate to challenge the stigma associated with mental health in northern Uganda.

Action for mental Health and Recovery:

Working with the Northern Uganda psychiatric unit in the regional referral hospital in Gulu to establish a mental health recovery community-based outreach model. We have trained 55 health workers on psychiatric clinic support in 12 health centers and identified and trained 120 community support structures to monitor mental health drug adherence and counseling.

Health Education and HIV/AIDS:

Our aim in this theme is to address the challenges of improving health education in rural, conflict-affected, and underserved communities by working within the existing health framework to establish and promote health education programs that will provide rapid and long-term capacity-building and access to health care to improve health and quality of life and will give children, mothers and communities more control over their health status.

The “Healthy Children Ready to Learn” is our slogan in this theme.  APPCO stands on the concept that health is a critical partner to optimum education. All children have a right to be healthy. At a minimum, this right assumes promoting optimum use of available and effective preventive measures, such as ensuring compliance with immunization recommendations; promoting measures for preventive hygiene and sanitation diseases; ensuring opportunities to identify HIV/AIDS control among youth; and providing prompt treatment when needed. Families must receive the support and assistance they need to raise healthy and educated children.

To realize these goals and objectives, the two critical systems of greatest importance to children, those providing health services and education, need to collaborate, not only among themselves but also with social services. A range of critical health problems will require our attention if the goals are to be met, such as availability of prenatal care, infant mortality, inadequate nutrition during pregnancy or early childhood, or both, disease prevention by immunization, infants who have been exposed to drugs, fetal alcohol syndrome, and the emotional and mental disorders of early childhood, to name a few. At any one time, any family may require appropriate services. To address the health and well-being of their young children, a continuum of appropriate, accessible services must be available in the community and APPCO will design programs to meet these needs.

The first steps toward achievement of the readiness goal will require the identification of health, education, and social service programs that serve young children and their families, and the creation of a climate that fosters innovative and effective collaboration between programs at the Federal and State levels, especially as it pertains to the community.