Havering Mind’s women’s group uses creativity as key to empowerment and recovery

PUBLISHED: 15:00 12 November 2016

The women's group at Havering Mind

The women's group at Havering Mind


Over six weeks, women suffering from mental health issues can learn how to use creativity to build up their self-confidence. Chloe Farand found out more about the programme.

The women's group making their self-care boxes at Havering MindThe women's group making their self-care boxes at Havering Mind

Through arts, creativity and meditation, a group of women is finding empowering solutions to find their way to recovery.

The group of mental health sufferers found a safe space to open up about their experiences over the course of a six-week confidence building programme.

Led by a group worker from the Ashiana Network, a charity which supports women and girls with experiences of sexual abuse, domestic violence, and unhealthy relationships, the women were able to create a “self-care box” and develop tools to surround themselves with positivity.

Using arts and crafts, the group came up with their own affirmative messages and personalised their boxes, but also expressed themselves through drawings.

The women's group at Havering MindThe women's group at Havering Mind

Lisa, who attended the group, told the Recorder: “You are vulnerable when you have depression – people can take advantage of you and not really listen to your opinions.

“This teaches people to be more aware and make sure they look after themselves and their relationships. You need to stand up for yourself because it can be damaging if you allow people to treat you in a certain way – we all deserve to be treated with respect. That is something I have learnt.”

Denise Miller believes society’s perceptions of how women should behave is a source of pressure from a young age. “You are only allowed to be powerful as a woman if a man is letting you be,” she told the Recorder.

“We need to be the perfect lady, the perfect body, the perfect this and the perfect that.”

Zasia Rahman explained she developed mental health problems eight years ago, but it took her up to five years to do something about it because she felt so stigmatised.

“We are in the UK in an open society, but behind the doors there is still stigmatisation going on. It is a very hard – you seem to lose everything.”

Throughout the programme, the women were able to create objects and messages to look after their mental wellbeing and express what they could not otherwise put into words, explained Zasia.

Denise, who described herself as a creative person, said her depression had affected her desire to want to do things with her hands. But through meditation and the group’s support, Denise has reconnected with her passion.

“I give myself permission to be free, happy, loved,” she read out from her notes of the morning session. “I visualised being in a bubble in the water and lying on my back. Feeling the rays of the sun in safety. I have a sense of freedom.”

Feeling empowered by the sessions, Lisa said she had to re-train her brain to think about positive things. Every day, she reads a phrase out loud in front of the mirror: “I am getting stronger and more confident day by day.”

“I have been feeling more like myself since doing this,” she added.

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