LIRA Northern Uganda

On February 5th and 7th, Centre for Children in Vulnerable Situations (CCVS) organized its annual dissemination workshops in Kampala and Lira, Uganda. The programmes included an overview of the activities and results of CCVS-International and CCVS-Uganda, and presentations by several governmental and non-governmental partners and stakeholders in the field of mental health.

The workshop in Kampala was attended by over 40 representatives of 22 different local and international NGOs, academia, the Embassy of Belgium in Uganda and the Ugandan Ministry of Health. The workshop took place at Royal Suites in Bugolobi.

The workshop kicked off with an introduction of CCVS-International and a presentation on CCVS-Uganda’s activities, achievements and challenges/ways forward. After the presentations, some time for discussion and reflections took place. Next to UNHCR asking about the breakdown of the beneficiaries reached in 2017, especially the Ugandan Ministry of Health posed some questions about who was performing the services, which tools we are using to assess our clients, and how CCVS-Uganda perceives its specialization in mental health.

After the break, three partners/stakeholders in the field of mental health took the stage. The first presentation was performed by Gabriele Marini, Psychotherapist/Field Representative at Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) Uganda, on the CVT Uganda’s group therapy approach. The presentation was a detailed exploration about the way CVT Uganda performs its group therapy and what impact this intervention has on the clients. Second, Benard Okot Kasozi, Senior Research and Advocacy Officer/Lead Psychosocial Researcher at Refugee Law Project, performed a presentation on the intersection between mental health, cultural belief systems and transitional justice. In his presentation, Benard touched upon how mental health organizations/institutions must reflect upon spirituality and religion when drafting and executing their interventions. Lastly, Dr. James Mugisha, Senior Researcher at Butabika National Referral Hospital, did a presentation on the Wayo-Nero mental health project in Northern Uganda. This holistic approach integrated the training of community-based members (aunts and uncles), medication and material support in an attempt to close the mental health treatment gap on the grassroot level. Finalizing the second part of the workshop, the Ugandan Ministry of Health shared that organizations/institutions in the field of mental health are to share all of their tools (i.e., assessments, manuals) with the Ministry of Health for evaluation.

Closing the workshop, Scott Bartel, Programme Manager/Acting Legal Advisor at Trust Fund for Victims (International Criminal Court) took the stage explaining about the relationship they have with CCVS-Uganda within the assistance programme targeted to support victims of the GoU-LRA insurgency.
The workshop in Lira took place in cooperation with Lira District Local Government and Lira NGO Forum. The workshop was attended by 55 representatives from 29 different local and international NGOs, academia, Lira District Local Government, Lira NGO Forum and Radio Wa. Similar to the Kampala workshop, the workshop in Lira started off with information sharing about CCVS-International and CCVS-Uganda. After this discussion, the floor was opened for reflections and questions. Several participants asked for clarifications on CCVS-Uganda’s work in Lira Main Prison, how CCVS-Uganda identifies its partners and potential clients, CCVS-Uganda’s sole focus on mental health service delivery and follow-up of clients, and mainstreaming psychosocial issues in development programmes.

After the break, Mr. Francis Okello, the Lira District Community Development Officer, shared about the implementation of Psychosocial Support Guidelines from the Ministry of Labour, Gender and Social Development. Afterwards, a brief brainstorm on the general achievements, challenges and ways forward on mental health support was led by the Executive Director of Lira NGO Forum. The final session was performed by Dr. Bruno Atyang who provided background to the programmatic focus of the Ugandan government and NGOs on mental health throughout the years.

Overall, the two dissemination workshops proved to be a success given that it provided a chance for CCVS-International and CCVS-Uganda to share and discuss about its achievements, challenges and ways forward of 2017, several partners were able to share about their work ,and it provided a networking platform for various national and international governmental and non-governmental stakeholders in the field of mental health.