Mental health is a topic that has often been ignored. In our current society, many people suffer from mental illnesses in silence, not knowing where or who to turn to. Many organizations have also shied away from discussing mental health issues, seeing it as a taboo topic. From research conducted by WHO, depression, anxiety, psychological distress, sexual violence and domestic violence affect women at a greater extent than men. 41.9% of women suffer from depressive disorders compared to 29.3% of men.
Research has shown that the prevalence of depression in adults with disabilities is estimated at 24.9% to 41% which is higher than the 22.8% to 27.5% observed in non-disabled adults. When seeking access to mental health support from healthcare providers or counselors, women with disabilities have reported experiencing stigma, because of the apparent focus on the disability rather than the mental health challenges. More often than not, women with disabilities are only perceived for their disabilities. Based on limited understanding of disability, majority of healthcare workers and service providers cannot understand that women with disabilities face mental health challenges beyond their disabilities. (Incidence, risk, and associated factors of depression in adults with physical and sensory disabilities)
Women with disabilities experince more risks to mental health problems as a result of gender discrimination, violence, poverty, armed conflict, dislocation and other forms of social deprivation” Stigma and discrimination has also been linked to psychosocial problems and mental health. Women and girls with disabilities experience more gender based violence, sexual violence mostly perpetrated by their caregivers and family also the lack of social inclusion contributes to increased levels of stress and anxiety.
Creation of community mental health forums will allow women with disabilities to have a safe space where they can share their experiences, express their emotions and feelings without the risk of being judged. The solutions to problems they face as well resiliency skills will be offered within these same spaces. Creation of such spaces will also strengthen bonds and build support networks within the community, thus increasing each individual's sense of belonging and self-worth.
The Mental Health community therapy is a safe online space guided by two licensed therapists. The discussion topics are based on the results of a needs analysis where more than 30 women with different disabilities took part in the assessment. They shared what they wanted to discuss, why and their challenges.
In each session, the group discusses their personal experiences and shares tips to cope with different challenges.
We have two sessions per week with two different groups:
The entire process is online and is supported by a Mental Health guide with different resources for the participants.
The festival will create visibility on the experiences of women and girls with disabilities, supports and enriches policy conversations on gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive health with key stakeholders.