INVISIBLE SCARS ( Enkovu Ezitalabika)
A FOCUS ON THE MENTAL HEALTH OF QUEER PEOPLE IN UGANDA
Voice could not have been happier when Elvis, the author, invited us to support the survey and publication of Invisible Scars. As a grant facility, we promote diversity and inclusion of people with mental health challenges and those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender(LGBT).Hence, research done around the intersectionality of these two, especially in Uganda as one of the Voice focus countries, is a value-added asset for current and future generations.
Elvis’ wake-up call was when a suicidal transwoman reached out to him before her final act. This made him realise the need to have these ‘situations’ researched and documented, which may save a life or lives. It certainly saved hers! A small campaign, #SeeTheInvisible was launched by Elvis’ organisation, Icebreakers Uganda in collaboration with Sexual Minorities Uganda as part of Data4Change,a project from the Small Media Foundation with a grant from Voice. The campaign made Elvis realise that achieving and maintaining good mental health was a big issue for the queer community in Uganda. This message defies popular perceptions that mental illnesses and being queer are un-African.
Elvis’ road to discovery began, unveiling the invisible mental scars of LGBT persons in Uganda. Elvis talked to over 200 people, ranging from health service providers, government and non-government workers, to friends and families of the LGBT community; and most importantly, to LGBT people themselves.
This publication reveals very deep and personal stories and poems, highlighting the struggle of queer people with mental illnesses. It shows the barriers within the Ugandan (mental) health services, but also offers solutions to overcome them, and highlights the allies willing to work alongside the people. Most importantly, the resilience and strength of the individuals shines through, despite very traumatic experiences, leaving the reader with a sense of healing, hope and solidarity.
Voice is proud to be part of this publication from Icebreakers Uganda and the author, and to make visible the invisible scars. We hope that this report will help in advocating for a future where having mental health issues and being queer are simply part and parcel of the (health) system.