Equipping Lay Health Workers in Central Uganda to Address Ebola-Associated Psychological Distress

Lay Healthworkers

Mental Health specialists on the Unit’s Ebola+D study conducted a training to equip health workers from 11 health facilities in central Uganda with skills in psychoeducation and problem solving and enhance their capacity to manage cases of psychological and psychosocial distress in patients.  

Participants benefited from interactive role-play sessions that used real-life scenarios to address key challenges in patient engagement at the health facilities. With support from expert facilitators from the project, health teams were able to improve their skills in conducting health talks and administering the Self Reporting Questionnaire-20 (SRQ-20), a standard tool for determining psychological distress levels in patients.  

With renewed knowledge and skills from the training sessions, 21 health care workers, including nurses and doctors committed to conduct more comprehensive health talks about Ebola and other infectious diseases at their health facilities, including detailed explanations about the available support mechanisms for patients with psychological trauma both within the facilities and elsewhere.  

Agnes Kabugho, a 32-year-old Supervisor of Lay Health Workers at Mubende Regional Referral Hospital, said, “The refresher training has enabled me to critically assess colleagues for potential psychological distress. While awaiting the implementation of these skills by our facilitators on patients, I noticed some fellow health workers exhibiting signs of Ebola-related psychological distress. I conducted a health talk and administered the SRQ-20 questionnaire. If an individual had more than 6 issues, they qualified for psychoeducation, facilitating problem-solving. I am grateful to the Unit for this training and eagerly anticipate more sessions ahead.” 

Nestor Maniraguha has dedicated more than two decades to Kasambya Health Centre. He eagerly embraced training to tackle Ebola-related emotional stress. He noted, “I have noted language challenges with the SRQ-20 questionnaire. We often use Luganda and English, but I have met patients who speak neither. I urge the Unit scientists to translate these questions into local languages like Lhukonjo and Runyankole. It's truly an effective problem-solving tool.” 

The Ebola+D study, a mental health support initiative launched at the height of the Ebola Sudan outbreak in Mubende district seeks to address medium to long-term Ebola associated psychological distress and psychosocial trauma that resulted within the affected communities in Mubende District, central Uganda. The study is part of the Unit’s Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) theme. 

About the NCD Theme 

The NCD Research Theme seeks to study and understand the distinct manifestations of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and mental illness in sub-Saharan Africa, and their drivers, as well as develop appropriate prevention and management intervention strategies.

Learn more about the NCD research theme 







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