Free mental health helpline launched in Uganda

In May 2021, our partner Mental Health Uganda, launched the country's first national phone service providing free counselling, guidance, and information on mental health issues.

A counsellor taking a call for the free helpline in Uganda

Prevention of discrimination

The helpline is a low-threshold alternative for anyone who needs someone to talk to. The main target group for the project are young people between 15 and 35 years of age. Callers are able to speak directly to a person who can provide advice and guidance on mental health and who can, if necessary, refer them to the nearest service where they can receive further follow-up.

As in many other countries, people associated with mental health problems face great prejudice and social stigma in Uganda. At the same time, it is normal to have mental health problems in one or several periods of life. Support for people with mental health challenges in Uganda is very limited. Around 75% of Uganda’s 45 million inhabitants live in rural areas where there are few mental health services available. In the face of a heavily deprioritized sector with few available recourses to keep up with the increasing demand in the population, the helpline has become an important contribution to the country’s mental health services.

Overwhelming volume of calls

Immediately after the helpline opened, the popular interest was overwhelming. Mental Health Uganda recorded around 800 calls every day. By the end of August 2021, they had received over 3,300 calls.

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