Ways to Improve Your Community’s Mental Health 433
Identify those who are at risk for mental health problems.
Women are at risk if they have:
• had mental health problems in the past.
• lost family members or are separated from their families.
• witnessed violence or have violent partners.
• little social support.
Look for other behaviors that may indicate mental health
problems. If you suspect that someone has a mental health
problem, get to know her better. Listen to what other people
are saying about her behavior and the ways she has changed.
Since mental health problems often have roots in the family
or community, think about how these may contribute to
Build on a woman’s strengths. Every woman has developed
ways of coping with everyday problems. Help a woman identify
the positive ways she has dealt with problems in the past and
how she might use these strengths in her present situation.
Work within a woman’s traditions
and culture. Every community has
traditional ways of dealing with mental
health problems, such as prayer and
ritual. These practices are not always
helpful, but they should always be
considered and used as much as
possible. Try to learn as much as you
can about a woman’s traditions and how
they may be a source of strength for her.
Anything that helps a woman recognize
or give meaning to her experience can
help her mental health.
Remember that there are no quick solutions to mental health
problems. Beware of anyone who promises this.
Ask for help when you need it. If you do not have experience
with a mental health problem, try to talk to a trained mental
health worker who does. Listening to other people’s mental
health problems can make you feel burdened, especially if you
listen to a lot of people. Watch yourself to see if you are feeling
pressured, if you are losing interest in helping others, or if you
get irritable or angry easily. These are signs that you are making
other people’s problems your own. Ask for help, and try to get
more rest and relaxation so you can work effectively.
➤ The most
important part of
any treatment is to
make the woman
feel supported and
cared for. Try to
involve her family
and friends in the
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012