Recognition of the need of innovative psychosocial programming in collaboration with vocational training for adolescents in Ugandan refugee settlements

Organisation: Playing to Live

Partners: Danish Refugee Council (DRC)

Location: Refugee Settlements- Adjumani, Arua, ect, DRC Uganda Office in Kampala (primary)

Type of grant: Core – recognition

Status: Completed

  • Adolescents in an Ebola affected community engage in an art activity that asks them to draw images of their interpersonal strengths.

  • Children in Playing to Live’s South Africa program explore what makes them Super Heroes

  • Children in Playing to Live’s South African pilot program engage in a fun therapeutic play activity

  • Children in Liberia engage in Playing to Live!’s expressive arts activities a few weeks after the Ebola epidemic ending.

  • The Bidi Bidi Reception Center. While we were there it was fairly empty, but only a few months back it was hosting sometimes up to 3,000 new refugees per day.

  • As we were waiting to enter Bidi Bidi to do our assessment, we had time to speak to our two liaisons from the Danish Refugee Council, who spoke to us about the major need of mental health support in the refugee response

  • Cat, our Program Manager, speaks to a representative while gathering essential information to help our mapping process.

  • Bidi Bidi Meeting

  • Rhino Camp Meeting

  • Practicing the presentation in the domestic flight en route to the first settlement

Playing to Live (PTL) is building a recognition for need and concept for an innovative mental health program for adolescent girls in Ugandan refugee settlements by gathering current data, running focus groups, and key stakeholder interviews.

What is the humanitarian need?

The experience of psychological trauma can greatly impact an adolescent’s life. Research shows there are significant short-term and long-term effects of experiencing trauma. These effects have been found to be heightened in humanitarian settings. Successful solutions for mental health support of adolescent girls have been found to be peer group support, expressive arts, self-esteem support, and vocational opportunities. This project will evaluate the cultural considerations, resources, needs, and opportunities for an innovative psychosocial approach in refugee settlements in Uganda for adolescent girls.

What is the innovative solution?

Research shows that therapeutic expressive arts, peer support, and cognitive behavioural therapy have significant effects on trauma symptoms for adolescents. While these solutions have been found to be successful, mental health clinicians are scarce in humanitarian settings and mental health services often carry stigma. This project will utilize current data from the refugee settlements, a review of best practices, and the guidance of the refugee community in Uganda to build a concept for a community based mental health program.

What are the expected outcomes?

A literature review that highlights best practice in mental health programming for refugee and emergency settings. An in depth needs and resource assessment specific to community based mental health programming in Uganda’s refugee settlements. Completion of an action plan and results summary report in collaboration with key stakeholders.


Elrha is a registered charity in England and Wales (1177110).

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