Every Monday afternoon for the past six weeks, a group of 12 women have met on a neighbor’s porch. The StrongMinds Therapy Group, which selected the name “Together We Can,” will meet for a total of 12 weeks to overcome their depression together with guidance from Susan, their StrongMinds Mental Health Facilitator.
Susan begins each session by going around the group and having each woman share her burden rating. (Click here to see the English translation of this visual.) While they do so, women share a snapshot of their experiences and reflections from the week. Susan tries in each instance to help connect group members’ symptoms and feelings with the weeks’ events and to the larger trigger each woman identified as the source of her depression. For many group members, disagreements and isolation triggered their depression, which left them unable to sleep, eat, or care for their children. For example, one woman’s depression began as conflicts with her husband over household expenses worsened. This week, she is concerned about speaking with him about upcoming school fees. Susan facilitates a role-playing exercise so she can practice the dialogue and different approaches to gain confidence and skills to hold a discussion with her husband.
The group then moves into a discussion on common triggers and symptoms of depression. Susan reminds everyone that depression can make someone think, incorrectly, that she is alone in her problems and that there are no possible solutions. Susan asks groups members to talk about ways that their depression triggers are similar and then asks the group to help brainstorm more options for a woman who feels trapped in her role as a second wife.
Towards the end of the session the women are still excited to share with one another and looking forward to the next session. Based on the group discussion, members are given assignments to work on during the week. One woman set a goal to work on her relationship with her sister, while another member planned to greet three people to continue to break her isolation tendencies.
After the session formally concludes, Susan says farewell and moves on to her final group for the day. The women then begin working on an income generating activity that they chose to do together. They combined their money to buy the raw materials to make financial account books that will be sold in the market. Typically, StrongMinds Therapy Groups continue to meet long after their Mental Health Facilitator has ended the formal 12-week therapy. Crafts and small income activities add an additional incentive for women to continue to meet to talk about their struggles and find resiliency.
These 12 women know that “Together We Can” is more than their group name, it is their new outlook on life!