Fem Alliance (FEMA) Uganda in partnership with Ice Breakers Uganda (IBU) commemorated the annual World Mental Health Day in Kampala on Saturday 10th October 2020 under the theme "Take A Step Forward".

Jay Mulucha, the Executive Director at FEMA and IBU's Programs Director, Elvis Ayesiga, emphasized the need to prioritize mental health and pledged their organisations’ continued support to offer mental health services to Uganda's LGBT+ community. Ayesiga also stressed that there was urgent need to publish more reports on mental health and IBU was taking on this commitment by IBU to ensure availability of updated resources and information to eliminate the notion that sexual orientation and gender identity are a mental health problem. "Despite recent research and change of attitudes towards mental health, some doctors continue with the notion that being gay is a mental health issue. We are trying to continue the sensitization process so that they understand someone's sexuality and gender identity aren't a mental health problem."

In her remarks, the chief guest Elizabeth Kemigisha noted that conversations about mental health have been more streamlined in the work involving LGBT+ persons and sex workers which is a very good step towards addressing these problems. However, she observed that while strides have been made in advocacy even with the recognition from the Ministry of Health on the existence of queer persons in Uganda, there are still some stagnant areas that require redress. "One of the challenges is the difficulty in recognition of violence that leads to mental health issues especially with in the LGBTI+ community which has been normalized. We have normalized physical and emotional violence that is the major cause of mental health complications within the queer community," she said on the issue of normalized behavior that aggravates mental illnesses.

Despite the complications in advocacy, Ms Kemigisha commended community members for pushing for such conversations in spaces that they have been opportuned to penetrate.

A panel discussion also engaged the attendees on mental health challenges and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on different spectrums of the LGBT+ community, strategies that can be implemented to tackle these issues and how best to divert donor funding into research and delivery of mental health services to LGBTI/ SW communities.

FEMA's Psycho Social Support Centre and studio was also officially opened at the same event and NOT ALONE, a mental health crisis response guide by IBU for LGBT+ community members was launched.