The theme of our summer open day was women’s mental health, combining psychoeducation, group discussion and self- care activities.
The key focus centred on perceptions and understanding of mental health.
Prior to the evening, all female visitors to the Maya Centre had been invited to add their thoughts to our mental health post-it wall. This formed the basis for our debate which was hosted by our counsellor Dawn Estefan. The wall sparked lots of conversations around experiences of mental health difficulties, shame, stigma, impact on self -worth and self –perception and the wider family/community/social context of mental health.
Most clients took part in the conversations and the feedback was very positive, with some participants referring to the discussion as the part of the evening that they enjoyed the most. Others remarked on what they had learnt and feeling connected with others as a result of the discussion.
One participant said that the discussion provided her with:
“A whole new reflection on a scenario that I’m personally dealing with…shame. I liked listening to all the other women very much”. For another participant “sharing ideas together”, was what she liked the most.
The programme included a body percussion/rhythm session which is great for grounding the women in finding their inner rhythms.This proved to be a fun and engaging way of moving from thinking and talking about difficult issues, to creating a sense of safety through awareness of breath and rhythm, which followed onto self-care exercises and thinking forward. Participants enjoyed this exercise which ranked high for the evening’s favourite.
A feel-good exercise taken from the “I am “Project, called the ‘Well of strengths’, allowed participants to identify together the things that bring them joy, pleasure and are a source of their strength. The exercise encourages self-care and validates that women have the right to have time for themselves and that self- care is essential for good mental health.
Our deputy Director and clinical lead, Justine, also presented on the subject of women and mental health. The format was a psychoeducation piece, putting individual experiences of mental health difficulties into wider societal context. The presentation strongly resonated with the experiences of our clients and most shed a tear and remarked that it wasn’t easy information to listen to but very important to hear.
One participant said:
“It was hard to listen (…) but those were also important information.”??
For others the presentation provided a sense of relief and allowed personal learning. Another participant said “The extra challenges that women suffer when dealing with depression and that I am not alone in experiencing this”
The presentation covered the subjects in this image, allowing participants to start thinking about what is needed to achieve good mental health.
The evening was well enjoyed and returned positive feedback form participants.
“I really enjoyed hearing others talk so honestly about their mental health/ illness”
“A really informative+enjoyable evening. Glad I came- helpful to connect to the Maya Centre”
Big thank you to:
All clients who contributed to the debate,
Vicky who run excellent body rhythm workshop, Lindt chocolate and Body Shop for providing free samples to support our activities, and all of our volunteers who supported the evening.