Improving Uganda’s mental health challenges through digital transformative solutions

Don Zane Muwanguzi March 16, 2022

What are the potentials and risks of digital mental health solutions? Don Zane Muwanguzi on the holistic approach Awesome Mind Speaks takes and their App KEEPCHATTY.


One approach toward mitigating the effects of mental health challenges is leveraging the power of digital health technology to deploy preventative, assistive and therapeutic solutions for young people in Uganda.

Building the bridge for mental health service provision

Mental health is in a crisis that is affecting many people in Uganda, and worse because of the pandemic that has lasted for over two years with the traditional means of accessing health care locked down. Now more than ever virtual care and other digital tools serve as important bridges in supporting and increasing access to mental health care among young people with mental health crises. The use of digital mental health care offers a unique solution to the shortcomings of traditional in-person office visits through the use of video, audio or text messages to provide help to a patient with a mental health crisis.

Young people who primarily make up a greater percentage of digital technology use carry the highest burden of mental health crises ranging from anxiety, depression and substance abuse related disorders. As of today, particularly in Uganda, the relevance of leveraging digital mental health solutions has further increased as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic that created an upsurge of mental health crises among young people thus highlighting the need for digital mental health service provision.

A new error in Mental health service provision

Digital mental health provides a unique new avenue through a range of technologies for mental health assessment, support, prevention, treatment and information sharing. In the same regard, the use of mental health digital tools and virtual care create a holistic approach for patients who need both in person and group mental health services. This combination of tools provides the mental health care system with scalable solutions and increased flexibility while improving access and convenience for consumers.

The application of digital health methodologies to young people thus promises considerable benefits and has received growing attention in the recent past. Digital mental health tools can improve mental health conditions such as depression across various patient populations. Inspite of this, young people are also particularly vulnerable and susceptible to manipulation, especially via digital devices and methods. As a result, the use of digital technologies for mental health treatment among young people generates benefits and ethical issues.

Digital tools like mental health care apps also have an important role, given their availability and scalability and any current evidence for apps for behaviour change remains limited, and self-help for mental health remains equally limited.

Our solution

Awesome Mind Speaks uses an integral approach for mental health information provision through the use of both traditional and digital means to reach young people with mental health information and services.

In a bid to traverse inadequacies in mental health service provision, Awesome Mind Speaks is developing an innovative solution dubbed ‘KEEPCHATTY’ the app intends to bridge the gap between young people and service providers through digital mental health care. Through the app, young people in need of mental health service can ably choose a service provider of their choice and a time appropriate for their therapy sessions. The app is a game changer in Uganda’s mental health environment due to its uniqueness that allows individuals to share mental health related information, create support groups, and events, and have real time counselling sessions.