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“Not Enough Money and Too Many Thoughts: Exploring Perceptions of Mental Health in Two Ugandan Districts.” - Population Health Surveillance (PHS)’s first peer reviewed manuscript

By: Hillary Wamani

20th Jan, 2021.

AMBSO has this week had its maiden peer reviewed scientific article published online in the Qualitative Health Research journal. The manuscript was authored by Amanda P. Miller, a collaborating researcher from the University of California, San Diego with support from Co-authors from Africa Medical and Behavioral Sciences Organization (AMBSO) and Karolinska Institutet.

The publication presents a beautiful qualitative synthesis of contemporary mental health perceptions and also provides an opportunity of deeply understanding this concept in the context of Uganda. This new literature will bridge the gap in Uganda where there is limited evidence to support perceptions on mental health both at individual and societal levels along gender lines, income and urbanization levels. This analysis was undertaken to investigate the general populace’s understanding of specific Mental Health Disorders and their underlying causes, citing interplay of a variety of extrinsic and intrinsic factors that impact mental health such as financial woes, food insecurity, underlying chronic medical conditions and Intimate-Partner Violence (IPV).

The study focused on low income and fishing communities along lake shores in Central and Western Uganda with a sample of 62 men and women across Hoima and Wakiso districts relying on qualitative data from Population Health Surveillance (PHS) which is largely based on monitoring trends in infectious and non-communicable diseases, family, and population structures and other health-related information.

The study presents a number of key findings including; mental distress and Mental Health Disorders being widespread among the study population; external factors were considered to be the primary drivers of poor mental health; changes in appearance and behavior were the most widely recognized symptoms of Mental Health Disorders; limited healthy coping mechanisms for mental distress were currently being utilized; and knowledge and attitude related barriers to self-help and professional health for mental distress and Mental Health Disorders exist.

More findings from this article can be found at https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732320986164