Developing a Mental Health Policy in Uganda


The PL0S Medicine series on Global Mental Health Practice presents a case study on the development of the new Ugandan national mental health policy. The policy purports to address factors that affect recovery such as stigma and poverty, and “analysis of the revised MNS draft policy by a group of stakeholders using the WHO checklist found the following strengths: (a) The values and associated principles in the policy promote human rights, social inclusion, evidence-based practice, inter-sectoral collaboration, and equity with physical health care… Upholds the rights of people with mental health problems… Advocates for consumers and for community participation and involvement in care.”

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Ssebunnya J., Kigozi F., Ndyanabangi S. (2012) Developing a National Mental Health Policy: A Case Study from Uganda. PLoS Med 9(10): e1001319

Note from Kermit Cole, “In the News” editor:
The policy also presents evidence-based practice and access to “essential medications” as a strength. On balance this is an interesting document of the process of organizing mental health care on a national scale, that could be of interest to organizers on a statewide level.

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. “Upholds the rights of people with mental health problems… ”

    So nobody in Uganda is being forcibly drugged and detained?

    Once you’ve labeled somebody mentally ill you’ve already stolen their right to define their own personal problems as nothing “health” related at all.

    Everyone gets thrown into this cult, it’s a shame to see Africa’s domino fall.

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