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Our group-based intervention, Project Thrive, published in Behavior Therapy

September 21, 2020
Finding from our pilot randomized controlled trial that show that our intervention reduces depression and anxiety have now been published in the venerable clinical psychological publication, Behavior Therapy.

Our first study on the efficacy of the Shamiri intervention has now been published in the venerable peer-reviewed journal Behavior Therapy. The pilot randomized controlled trial was conducted in June to July 2018 with 51 adolescents (ages 14–17, 60.78% female) who were clinically depressed and/or anxious youths in a partner school in Kibera (the most populous urban slum in Africa; 250,000 live in a .96 sq.-mile area). The adolescents met in groups of 8-to-12 youths for one-hour weekly, across four weeks. The groups were led by our Thrive Fellows: trained high school graduates who had no formal mental health training outside of our study.

This publication—which appears to be the first of its kind from Africa—presents a significant step for Shamiri Institute and Project Thrive!, as it provides early evidence that our simple, stigma-free, scalable, and school-based approach to mental healthcare may actually yield therapeutic effects.

In the paper, we report that that youths who received our intervention reported greater reductions in adolescent depression symptoms (p=.038;d=.32) and anxiety symptoms (p=.039; d=.54) from baseline to 4-week follow-up, and greater improvements in academic performance (p=.034; d=.32) from the school term before versus after the intervention. There were no effects on overall social support or perceived control, but the Shamiri group showed larger increases in perceived social support from friends (p=.028, d=.71).

This publication—which appears to be the first of its kind from Africa—presents a significant step for Shamiri Institute and Project Thrive!, as it provides early evidence that our simple, stigma-free, scalable, and school-based approach to mental healthcare may actually yield therapeutic effects.

Our co-founders Tom and Katherine expressed their gratitude to the collaborators and co-authors Akash R. Wasil, Jessica Schleider, and John R Weisz. They also expressed their gratitude to the Center for African Studies at Harvard University, the Harvard College Research Program, and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University who generously funded the study activities.

Behavior Therapy is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal covering behavior therapy. It was established in 1970 and is published by Elsevier. The editor-in-chief is Denise M. Sloan.