66 chapter 3: Mental health
How to start a support group
1. Find 2 or more women who want to start a group.
2. Plan when and where to meet. It helps to find a quiet place, such as a school,
health post, cooperative, or place of worship.
3. Discuss what you hope to do. Choose the most important topics you want to
talk about together. Usually, support groups work best when they are run by
women with disabilities, for women with disabilities.
4. Give support instead of advice. Remember—every woman has to choose how to
face her challenges for herself. No one should tell her what she has to do.
5. Ask everyone to keep the group discussion
6. Let everyone have a chance to talk but make
sure the discussion stays focused on the
main point. After the first few meetings,
members may want to take turns leading
the group. Having more than one leader can
also help shy women lead.
Some of us had been
sexually abused in the
past, but we had never
been able to share it with
others. It was only in the
group that we could talk
about these terrible things.
Recognize feelings. Sometimes
women hide their feelings (or do
not even realize they have them),
because they think they are bad,
dangerous, or shameful.
Create a story, drama, or painting. You can make up a story about a situation similar
to those experienced by members of the group. Hearing others talk about feelings
can help a woman deal with her own feelings. The leader starts the story, and then
another member continues to tell another part, and so on, until everyone has
contributed something and the story is complete. The group can also act out the
story as it is told or paint a picture of the story.
These questions may help the group talk about their feelings:
• What feelings or experiences are most important in this story?
• Why did these feelings occur? How is the woman coping with these feelings?
• What can the group do to help?
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007