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Mental Health Issues

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Mental Health Issues

This page has resources that relate to the links between HIV and mental health issues – and how Stepping Stones can support participants to reduce or overcome these challenges.

This diagram was drawn by teenage girls in Zimbabwe who were sharing with Barbara Kaim of the Auntie Stella programme their experiences of the causes and consequences of having boyfriends. This diagram mirrors some of the issues highlighted in an article from S Africa below.

People living with HIV often experience additional stress. This can have an impact on their mental health, sense of wellbeing and self-esteem, and ability to start or adhere to medication.

2016 onwards: Stepping Stones with Children and the revised and updated Stepping Stones & Stepping Stones Plus were published. Stepping Stones with Children specifically supports children and their caregivers to overcome the adverse childhood experiences that they have faced, and supports children to build resilience and move towards post-traumatic growth. See here for more information on this.

2015: Salamander Trust and partners conducted a global values and preferences study for WHO of the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women living with HIV. This study identified high levels of mental health issues amongst women living with HIV after diagnosis. Click here for a peer reviewed journal article about this.

2009: Alice Welbourn explains how HIV can be described as a disability in a presentation at WHO in Geneva in April 2009: “Making Lemonade out Lemons – Stories of despair, determination and resilience of the spirit”. Please click on the links to access this presentation and accompanying slides.

2008: The following article looks at how teenagers’ mental health needs to be prioritised in the context of HIV in South Africa: Stepping Stones study: Fact sheet on young people’s health and sexual practices in villages and townships of the rural Eastern Cape.

How can Stepping Stones help?

2015: In Malawi, the Coalition of Women living with HIV and AIDS (COWHLA) conducted a baseline study in 2012, which established that gender-based violence experienced by women living with HIV affected their ability to adhere to anti-retroviral therapy. The evaluation of their Stepping Stones adaptation in 2015 found that GBV experienced by female participants especially had reduced and that the triggers of violence in the community had also reduced.

Stepping Stones programmes improve young people’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth in the community as described in the  evaluation of Stepping Stones conducted in South Africa – MRC, 2007.

In Uganda, Stepping Stones was successfully used to reintegrate returning army veterans into their communities. Baron Oron relates this experience in the following video interview.

Stepping Stones has changed the life of many in the village of Buwenda in southwest Uganda, where the original Stepping Stones workshop was conducted in 1994. The video Stepping Stones Revisited can be viewed here.

Stepping Stones has been used to help rebuild community cohesion in other post-conflict settings as described in the evaluation conducted by UNICEF in Mozambique in 1999.


Further Resource Links