Working for better mental health
The best way to help overcome mental health problems and
to prevent them from becoming worse is to talk with other
women about feelings, worries, and concerns. Here are some
suggestions for encouraging the women you know to listen to
and support each other:
• Organize activities that let women spend time together,
such as nutrition or literacy classes, or child care and
religious activities. Make extra efforts to include women
who seem afraid or uninterested in getting involved. Often
these women are the ones who most need to participate
and talk with others.
Mental Health 455
A group of Guatemalan refugee women
who felt a deep loss when they left
their land worked together to
plant vegetables and flowers.
This helped them feel close
to the earth, to begin to feel
like a community again, and
to provide some food for
• Organize a support group.
• Work with other women to find ways to grieve and mourn.
You may be able to adapt some of your traditional rituals to
your new situation. If you cannot, at least plan some time to
grieve as a group.
• Become a mental health worker. You can organize a group
of friends to talk with women who may not ask for help but
who are suffering from mental health problems. Find out
if your community has trained mental health workers or
religious workers trained in counseling who can also help.
starting a support
The destruction of homes, families, and communities is very traumatic.
Sometimes refugees and displaced women become so affected by these terrible
experiences that they cannot work, eat, and sleep in a normal way for a long time.
Women need special support and understanding to help them recover and to
begin to trust other people again. For more information on how to help people
recovering from trauma, see page 430. For more information on helping a woman
who has been raped, see page 334.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012