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STARTED: Incubation Program 2022


Joy Bittner

Co-founder, Executive Director

SEED GRANT: $132,000


Anita Kaslin

Co-founder, Community Group Coordinator


Building Strong Mental Health in Latin America


  • In terms of improving subjective well-being, we estimate Vida Plena to be at least 8x more cost-effective than GiveDirectly.

  • Cost per DALY: $280.93

    • Projected 454 DALYs in 2023 and 1,702 DALYs in 2024

  • Cost per WELLBY: $0.08

    • 7.27 (95% CI: 1.37, 43.80) WELLBYs per person

    • Projected 5338 WELLBYs will be produced in 2023

  • It is our goal to effectively treat depression in over 1,600 people in 2023.


  • Signed formal partnership with the Columbia University Global Mental Health Lab in NYC in which they commit to:

    • a) Train IPT Supervisors and the first cohort of group facilitators

    • b) Give overall program supervision and support

    • c) Design, conduct and publish an impact study

  • Established the legal advisory boards for Ecuador and the United States

  • Signed agreements with 11 local implementation partners in Ecuador

  • Established contact with local Ecuadorian universities, Indoamérica, and the PUCE as research partners

  • Fundraised $63,000 from EA donors towards the pilot program happening fall 2022

  • 4 team members were certified by Columbia University as Interpersonal Therapy clinical supervisors

  • Carried interviews and selected 11 people to be trained as support group facilitators

  • Hired an Ecuadorian clinical psychologist to provide mentorship to group facilitators

  • Conducted baseline impact evaluation data and developed plan to conduct and RCT with Columbia University in 2023 

  • Established connections with Strong Minds, a similar mental health organization based in Uganda to share knowledge and experiences. 


  • Community training: 11 local community members completed 55 hours of training to become support group facilitators certified by Columbia University.

  • Pilot Launch: Vida Plena is currently carrying out a pilot program to test the implementation of the program model in Latin America. 

  • Inauguration of first 11 support groups: Groups are composed of an average of 6 people and meet in local neighborhood locations for 9 weeks.


  • Predictive CEA, conducted by volunteers from the Happier Lives Institute

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