In many developing countries women suffer from enormous deficiencies in medical, economic and educational opportunities. Lack of access to resources, gender violence and isolation are endemic in many communities, and studies show that depression is the leading cause of disease among women in the developing world. However, there is virtually no understanding nor acceptability of mental health care for these women. GPS has been successfully implemented in partnership with The Maya Health Alliance in rural Guatemala, where indigenous community health workers are trained to lead GPS groups for women to talk about the serious challenges of their lives, often for the first time, in an environment of safety.
In my culture we don’t talk about our feelings. Life is hard and we just have to accept it. But I cry most nights, worrying about my family. When I sat in this group, I heard that other women feel the same way and I was so relieved. It made me feel stronger.
There is a lot of stigma around mental health in my culture. Women are expected to be strong for everyone else. GPS is a safe place to share our real feelings and know that we are not alone, that we are not crazy. I have seen the women in my group encourage each other and become more empowered as women and mothers.