The Centre for Emotional Heath provides research consultancy and training on issues related to emotional health and wellbeing.
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Recovery and Resilience
The Centre for Emotional Health worked in collaboration with the Mental Health Foundation and Survivor Research to document black women’s experiences of mental or emotional distress and recovery.
Recovery and resilience: African, African-Caribbean and South Asian women’s narratives of recovering from mental distress
This report is based on interviews with 27 women and explores perspectives of ‘mental’ distress and experiences of recovery and resilience.
The research highlights that black women view distress as being caused by a range of issues including personal, family, cultural and bio medical factors. Many women viewed their distress as a valid response to life experiences which included sexual and physical violence, the pressure of responsibilities and limitations placed on them by family and cultural expectations, racism in broader society and in struggling to find a sense of self and positive identity as black women.
For many women recovery meant more than just managing ‘symptoms’ and involved exploring emotions and making sense of the experiences which caused distress. The narratives show that it is important that those supporting women engage with them as an individual and understand their unique circumstances and experiences.
It was important to women that they had space to talk; talking helped relieve symptoms, discharged tension, tackled the causes of distress and helped prevent future distress by developing tools and inner resources to keep themselves healthy. Listening and empathy were described as two of the most powerful and healing interventions that others could make to help support their recovery.
Kalathil J, Collier B, Bhakta R, Daniel O, Joseph D & Trivedi P (2011). Recovery and resilience: African, African-Caribbean and South Asian’s women’s narratives of recovering from mental distress. London: Mental Health Foundation and Survivor Research.
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Lessons in healing from Black women's stories
This document is written for black women, mental health professionals and service providers and summarises black women's experiences, providing insight into their experience of distress and recovery.
Black women's narratives described conceptualisations of what is commonly referred to as 'mental', as emotional; distress is generated by experiences and our emotional responses to them. The journey of healing and recovery is highly individual as it most often involves the exploration of personal experiences, engaging with feelings and focusing on causes rather than simply focusing on managing symptoms.
Recovery is situated in understanding the context of causes of distress. Interventions in which professionals listen and engage with the individual and their unique circumstances offer more effective support than those where professionals are directive using coercive means to get patients to conform to prescribed interventions.
Collier B, Kalathil J, Recovery and Resilience; Lesson in healing from Black women's stories, Mental Health Foundation and Survivior Research, 2011
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