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Friendship Bench Grandmothers are a beacon of hope to their communities


Grandmother (Gogo) Margaret Hellman

Several studies have shown that in low- and medium-income countries there is a treatment gap for common mental disorders. To bridge that gap Friendship Bench has trained Lay Health Workers to offer talk therapy and make mental health services accessible from the communities.


Meet Grandmother Margaret Hellman one of the grandmothers who received training on Problem Solving Therapy in 2016. Grandmother Margaret is a 71-year-old dedicated Friendship Bench Grandmother from Dzivarasekwa in Harare. Grandmother Margaret sees clients from both the clinic facility and the community. She mobilises people in her community through mental health talks and integrates her work as counsellor with other health programs she works with at her facility. She explains that most of her clients refer one another for talk therapy and the community knows of the work that she does as a counsellor hence some come directly to her for counselling. The people in Grandmother Margaret’s community show an appreciation of mental health as they are forthcoming and happy to have a mental health intervention being offered freely in their community through Friendship Bench. Grandmother Margaret highlighted that the first time she sees a client she assures her client of confidentiality and that this is what helps her to build trust with her clients.


As a counsellor, Grandmother Margaret sees clients who have different problems. She also feels the impact of these problems. She shared a case that really got to her, where a client was being physically abused by their partner. Grandmother Margaret expressed her pain as she saw her client coming to the sessions with bruises, she commented that as a mother this was a painful experience to see a girl child going through such a difficult situation but however,  with compassion and empathy she conducted sessions with her client and these sessions empowered her client and gave her the courage to report this case to the police. Even though this was a difficult session for Grandmother Margaret, she became a pillar of support for her client and helped her to restore her confidence and speak against gender-based violence.


After sessions, Grandmother Margaret listens to music and enjoys sitting down to talk with friends and colleagues as a self-care method and this gives her the energy to go and help her next client.


Grandmother Margaret loves providing mental health support and likes to see her clients through their problems until they are healed. She loves empowering her clients to the extent that they can solve their problems on their own. Grandmother Margaret's message to people struggling with depression is to not lose hope and find someone trustworthy to talk to because it is always important to find someone to talk to. Her work in the community shows the power of talk therapy to transform lives through empathy, empowerment and unwavering support from the Friendship Bench Grandmothers.


 

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Gast
25. Apr.
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I am inspired to use the skills Friendship Bench taught me to help women in my community. Stories like Grandmother Margaret provide encouragement that this work is needed across the globe.

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Gast
15. Apr.
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So happy to hear that Grandmother Margaret is taking the time for self care through music and friendship after helping people in the community.

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Gast
15. Apr.
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So inspiring

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