On 15th November 2021, Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum (UYAHF) hosted a Twitter chat under the topic; Mental Health Challenges faced by Adolescents during COVID-19.

Mental health is defined by the World Health Organization, as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can make a contribution to his or her community”. It includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being.

World over and in Uganda in particular, the mental health of young people has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. For young people, and especially for vulnerable youth, the COVID-19 crisis has posed considerable risks in the fields of education, employment, mental health, and disposable income. Moreover, while youth and future generations will shoulder much of the long-term economic and social consequences of the crisis, their well-being may be superseded by short-term economic and equity considerations.

Worse to note is that, despite the increase in the cases of mental health among young people, the existing stigma and myths and misconceptions have made many people remain silent about their condition. Talking about mental health can encourage those having thoughts of suicide or dealing with severe mental illness to reach out to others for help.

It is against this background that UYAHF hosted a Twitter chat. The chat highlighted the different mental health illnesses affecting young people and also identified ways of breaking the stigma and voicing out the need to open up about mental health. It also highlighted the various ways to tackle the mental health challenges facing young people.

The Twitter chat was hosted under the objectives; To establish the magnitude of COVID-19 on the mental health condition of the young people, to inform policymakers about the mental health needs and challenges facing the young people, to break the stigma, and encourage young people to open up and report about their mental health conditions and to identify the most common mental health condition facing young people.

The panelists were; Don Zane Muwanguzi, Founder and Team Leader – Awesome Minds Speak, Nalunkuuma Ruth, Programs Assistant – Evidence and Methods Lab, Tikia AludriaJ, Blogger/Writer and Dr.Ben Kibirige, Advocacy Manager – Foundation for Male Engagement. The tweet chat ran with two harsh tags #EndMentalStigma and #BooksB4BabiesUg.

The two-hours Twitter chat that ran from 2:00 to 4:00 pm had over 150 tweets, 15 Original Contributors, 4,000 reach, 34 retweets with comments, 68 tweet replies, and 132 likes.