Skip to main content
Esther Suubi talking to young people at TRIUMPH.

News

Speaking Up About Mental Health

Play audio version

Meet DJP Fellow Esther Suubi

June 27, 2021

Esther Suubi is an educator and advocate for those with psychosocial disabilities, especially in her home country of Uganda. Born in a small town near Kampala, she found herself battling depression in her adolescence in a country where those with psychosocial disabilities are often considered incapable and unable to amount to anything in society. Undeterred by Uganda’s views, Suubi’s family provided her with all the care they could, which led her to Triumph Uganda Mental Health Support and Recovery Program (TRIUMPH) in Jinja. TRIUMPH’s mission is to “contribute to the process of enhancing recovery, building resilience and investing in social networks for inclusion of persons with psychosocial disabilities.” At TRIUMPH, Suubi was welcomed with open arms, receiving the support she needed.

Now, as a graduate of Uganda Christian University Mukono with a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication, she has continued pushing to destigmatize psychosocial disabilities with her work at TRIUMPH, where she serves as a self-advocate in peer education and communications, focusing on young women and adolescent girls. When Suubi is not leading sessions and training others, she is writing and proposing policies about mental health and sexual reproductive rights to key stakeholders in Uganda. Most recently, last November she presented a policy paper on access to sexual and reproductive health rights and services for adolescent girls and young women with psychosocial disabilities.

I decided to stand up and fight for my fellow girls and young women by speaking up so that we are heard.

Esther Suubi

With a strong interest in journalism, digital media, and social change, Suubi eagerly applied to participate in the Disability Justice Project’s fellowship program to gain one-on-one mentorship focused on enhancing her storytelling skills to benefit her work at TRIUMPH and beyond. Her goal is to build a personal social media following and campaign to raise awareness of the mental health disparities in Uganda and around the world. “I decided to stand up and fight for my fellow girls and young women by speaking up so that we are heard,” she says. “Many girls and young women are out there suffering and can’t speak up, but it won’t keep me silent.” Suubi continues, “As a mental health advocate…I want to see how I can use my social media handles…to be a representative out there.” The fellowship program will give her access to resources and mentorship that she has not had before, and Suubi is hoping she will be able to utilize social media and documentary-style videos to get her message out.

Suubi has deep love and passion for the work she is doing and will take on with the fellowship. With her expanded social media presence and the knowledge she gains from the Disability Justice Project, she is hoping to one day be the founder and director of her own organization, where she can connect with companies and other organizations about psychosocial disabilities and reiterate to them what she already knows to be true: persons with disabilities are able to do the work and enact change when given the chance.

News From the Global Frontlines of Disability Justice

Sri Sukarni sits in a motorbike sidecar, looking at the camera.

‘I Never Imagined I Could Do This’

Dissatisfied by the way local news portrays people with disabilities, DJP Fellow Sri Sukarni is determined to use her new video skills to share issues important to her community. At the top of her agenda is the lack of accessible public service buildings. “This is what I want to convey to the media, to the government,” she says.

Read more about ‘I Never Imagined I Could Do This’

Benedicta Oyedayo Oyewole sits in a chair, looking at the camera.

‘You Can’t Legislate Attitudes’

When DJP Fellow Benedicta Oyèdayọ̀ Oyèwọlé was a child, a pastor laid hands on her to “cast out the demons” and blamed her disability on witches. Today, Oyèwọlé is working as an advocate for Nigerians with disabilities to end discrimination: “It’s people’s attitudes that need to be transformed. You can’t legislate attitudes.” 

Read more about ‘You Can’t Legislate Attitudes’

Kinanty Andini uses a video camera.

‘Videos Are Like Art to Me’

When she was four years old, DJP Fellow Kinanty Andini drew all over the walls in her mother’s house. Now she’s using her creativity to make films that fight against mental health stigmas. “I want to show the society who we really are,” says Andini. “I want people to know that we are not what the stigma says about us.”

Read more about ‘Videos Are Like Art to Me’

Olúwáṣeun Oníyídé Olútòni stands outside, looking at the camera.

When Identities Collide

Olúwáṣeun Oníyídé Olútòni says that living at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities has shaped the way the world sees her – and how she sees the world: “My disability, gender identity, and queerness are not separate parts of me. They are parts of what makes me whole.”

Read more about When Identities Collide

Cyprian Niyibigira stands, looking at the camera.

Shut Out

Accessible job opportunities are few and far between for persons with short stature in Rwanda, says Vice President of the Rwanda Union of Little People Manasseh Nzanira. A woman with short stature who has remained unemployed despite having a bachelor’s degree for over four years shares her story.

Read more about Shut Out

Chancy Patrick Namalawa looks off to the right.

Financial Exclusion

A national effort to reduce poverty through the provision of small-scale loans in Malawi is not reaching persons with disabilities, advocates say. A man with a disability recounts his experience applying for a loan, and a Malawian disability rights advocate shares his hope for equal loan access for persons with disabilities.

Read more about Financial Exclusion