Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). More than 300 million people suffer from depression and they frequently face marginalisation because it is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed.
For those living in poverty, suffering from depression can trap them in a cycle that is almost impossible to break free from without help. Many find it hard to connect with family members or neighbours and can be isolated from society, making depressive symptoms worse.
Depression doesn’t only affect those with the disease, it also means large costs to an economy. The OECD estimates that 15 percent of the working-age population suffers from a mental illness like depression and that it can cost a country more than four percent of its GDP.
This is ascribed to the cost of treatment and to productivity loss. Poverty and economic difficulties worsen symptoms of anxiety and depression, and anxiety and depression lead to poverty and economic difficulties. It's hard to work when you're depressed, let alone landing a job. It's a vicious cycle.
Adding to the cycle, those suffering from depression often find it very hard to focus, make decisions, and plan for the future. This means they often can't take advantage of aid offered from development interventions.
Billions of dollars are spent every year on interventions aimed at teaching people a new skill, improving education, or preventing malaria but the help is not reaching nearly as many people as it could because of untreated and unrecognised depression.
Despite the global burden caused by depression, measures to treat it are severely underfunded. Depression is responsible for more lost years of healthy life than HIV; however, it only receives a tiny fraction of the aid HIV receives.
There is also a severe lack of trained professionals to treat depression in developing countries. Development economists suggest that one of the best channels to treat depression considering these gaps in funding and staffing is through task-shifting. Task-shifting refers to giving specialised training for certain tasks.
Another effective treatment method is group therapy. In search of a simple and cost-efficient and effective way to treat depression, Johns Hopkins University conducted a study using Group Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT-G). They found that it reduced depression in 93 percent of those treated.
Helping as many people as possible
StrongMinds is trying to treat depression in Africa at scale by combining task-shifting and IPT-G. Their goal is to treat two million women with depression in Africa by 2025. They currently focus on treating women because women suffer from depression at twice the rate of men.
The facilitators leading the group therapy are local professionals who have been trained and certified in the StrongMinds model. Each facilitator helps 300-400 women per year. After women suffering from depression successfully complete a 12-week group therapy program, they can train to become peer facilitators.
The StrongMinds model
The StrongMinds model is a 12-week group therapy program. Before being admitted into the program women are first screened to find out the level of their depression. If admitted, they join about 10-12 other women in the group therapy.
In the first phase women bond and build trust with each other. During the second phase, they get to share suggestions with each other and explore their own symptoms and triggers. The final phase is where they prepare for managing their depression outside of formal group therapy.
Making a positive impact on the long-term:
So far, StrongMinds has made a great positive impact on the lives of women who attended therapy, on their families and on the economy.
Of those treated, 70-80 percent of the women are depression-free six months after the programme. In a follow-up independent assessment two years after the program, two-thirds of women were still depression free and the majority continued to meet informally.
For the women that successfully complete the group therapy, they have seen unemployment rates decrease by 67 percent and of those who already had jobs, there was a 20 percent increase in working time. Many of the women choose to form a village savings and loans association after the program.
If you would like to help break the cycle caused by depression, consider donating to StrongMinds 👇
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American Internet celebrity and makeup artist Jeffree Star wants to open his own vegan-friendly fast-food chain.
As reported by LiveKindly, Jeffre Star made the announcement during a live stream on his Youtube channel where he speaks to an audience of 11 million subscribers.
During the video, the makeup guru said that he is "in talks" to start the business. The concept? A vegan-friendly ('that's the real gag") restaurant, selling pink cheeseburgers and cotton candy fries.
Yes, you got that right.
As noted by LiveKindly, this is not Mr Star's first foray into the world of veganism. Over the years, his beauty brand Jeffree Star Cosmetics already launched a series of vegan products like Thirsty, a vegan eyeshadow palette, and, more recently, the four festive vegan lip scrubs.
We'll see whether these business plans will turn out to be something more substantial than a Youtube announcement.
Meanwhile, we can't help but gladly notice that plant-based burgers and veganism at large are gaining momentum across different audiences.
If we want to save our planet and ourselves from climate apocalypse, we need new policies and governmental action. We're not gonna save the Earth changing our household light bulbs.
Extinction Rebellion – a burgeoning social movement to fight climate change that is taking hold in the United Kingdom – is asking for just this: governments must tell the truth about the ecological emergency and enact legally binding measures to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025.
There are no other ways out of this mess: structural change is needed.
However, this doesn’t mean that as individual citizens we can go on a carbon spree without consequences. Or that all the ways to reduce our personal carbon footprints are equally ineffective.
Different studies highlight that there are four effective ways to cut on your individual carbon emissions. And no, changing light bulbs is not one of them.
While we should keep asking for top-down changes, it’s also good to remember that we can start making an impact on the environment right now by adapting our lifestyle.
1) Eat a plant-based diet
I enjoy the flavour of meat a lot and I’d find it difficult to go 100 percent vegetarian (let alone vegan) right now. Nevertheless, I can considerably decrease my meat consumption. This is already highly beneficial for the environment.
Moreover, I can advocate for meat alternatives like plant-based or clean meat.
2) Avoid air travel
Flights are a notorious source of gas emissions. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to avoid flying. Many jobs require travelling on a regular basis and even though in many cases a virtual meeting will do just fine, there are still some occasions in which your physical presence is needed.
How to solve this ethical dilemma? One solution might be to donate some money to carbon offsetting schemes. These projects can go a long way in fighting carbon emissions.
3) Live car-free
Research shows that living car-free saves about 2.4 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year (while a plant-based diet saves 0.8 tonnes of CO2 equivalent every year).
I’m lucky enough to live in the Netherlands, a country where it's easy to move around without a car. This is possible thanks to an efficient public transportation system and the omnipresent cycle lanes.
In this case, it’s interesting to notice how my personal decision to live car-free is supported by environmentally friendly public policies.
4) Have a small family
If someone doesn’t exist, she doesn’t have a carbon footprint. This reasoning might seem at the same time cynical and stupidly obvious. But it’s also true.
According to Population Matters, having one fewer child is 25 more effective in cutting carbon emissions than living without a car.
What else could I do to reduce my carbon footprint?
Support Cool Earth, a highly effective organization that we thoroughly vetted.
Cool Earth is not only an offset scheme. It provides grant funding to rainforest communities, supporting community work in rainforest protection and ensures their voice is heard in agreements about the future of the rainforests. At the time of writing, 234,436,540 tonnes of CO2 has been stored as a result of their projects. Their Asháninka project shields millions of acres of forest from loggers, with 901,679 acres saved to date.
You too can help to save our planet. A more liveable Earth is just a click away 👇
It’s known that many celebrities support noble causes. After all, if you’re a celeb, you supposedly got the visibility and the money. So, you’re particularly well-suited to help other people.
Some VIPs go the extra mile and found their own charitable organization.
But are these celebrity-powered charities effective? Or even: are they doing any good?
To answer these questions, we picked five charities founded by celebrities and ran them through our Kinder Vetting Framework. Let’s see what came out.
Our selection of charities below isn't based on any scientific criteria. We browsed lists of celebrity founded charities and tried to pick out a balanced list
These are the charities that we picked:
The Lopez Family Foundation. Co-founded by journalist Lynda Lopez and her sister singer Jennifer Lopez, the Lopez Family Foundation “advocates and invests in policies and programs that make a positive, measurable impact on communities and makes quality healthcare and health education available for underserved mothers and their children.”
Born This Way Foundation. A charitable organization created in 2012 by Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta “with the goal of creating a kinder and braver world” (we can’t help but sympathize with such aim).
The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. Created in 1998, the foundation was established with the mission of protecting the world’s last wild places.
The Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation was founded in 2003 by Angelina Jolie as a “conservation and community development program in the Samlout Protected Area” (Cambodia).
The Kinder Vetting Framework
At Kinder, we developed a vetting framework to assess the performance of charitable organizations. At the moment, it’s made of two steps but we’re working to add another two in the near future.
The first step is called Initial Screening. With it, we examine the transparency and accountability of charitable organizations by evaluating their official websites.
In particular, we evaluate the charities on five parameters.
This is a fairly low initial threshold. To pass the Initial Screening, you need a score of 95.
The second step is called Organizational Competence. With it, we try to determine whether a charitable organization is competent and well-suited to solve the problems it’s addressing.
If an organization fails the Initial Screening, we usually don’t vet it on its Organizational Competence. Our aim in the next months is to start reaching out to all the organizations that fail the Initial Screening, share our results with them, and ask if they’re willing to improve their score.
So, to start with, we just wanted to see whether the five celebrity-run charities passed the Initial Screening.
I asked our in-house research team to have a look. This is the screenshot that they shared with me:
Again, to pass the Initial Screening you need to score at least 95. None of them did.
Quite discouraged, I read the notes the research team attached to the screenshot.
All charities with the exception of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation lack relevant information about their strategic plans. At the same time, DiCaprio’s organization needs to improve on other parameters like publishing its financial statements.
The Born This Way Foundation’s website was deemed “quite minimalist” by the research team, lacking information about key staff members and financial statements. Similarly, the Lopez Family Foundation should expand its website to include financial statements, strategic plans, relevant information about key staff members, and contact information (they don’t even have a contact form).
Obviously, the fact these five charities don’t pass the Initial Screening doesn’t mean that they’re inherently inefficient. It just suggests that they should work more on their online transparency and accountability.
In general, Kinder is not in the business of bashing charities and we would never share an organization’s poor results without discussing them with the relevant stakeholders beforehand. In this case, we made an exception since these five charities are exceptionally well-backed.
And if you’re Lady Gaga, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lopez, Oprah Winfrey, or Angelina Jolie and want to improve the Initial Screening score of your foundation don’t hesitate to drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Header Image: The Wolf of Wall Street © Paramount Pictures