At the heart of peacebuilding lies the strength of individuals and families. Mental health is an important part of overall well-being, helping individuals navigate challenges, nurture meaningful relationships, and contribute positively to their communities. Psic. Nibia Pizzo, the Country Representative of GPW Uruguay and a licensed psychologist who has also served as assistant to the vice-President of INAU, (Institute for Children and Adolescence of Uruguay) shared from her decades of experience helping families improve their mental health.
Recent data from Uruguay shows an increase of suicides, drug abuse and incarceration among women. In her professional work as well as her efforts with the women of GPW Uruguay, Nibia has developed a comprehensive approach to improving women’s mental health that focuses on seven objectives:
-Motivate through self-improvement and education
-Find meaningful and productive ways to use free time like volunteering
-Develop long-term goals and plans to achieve them
-Have accountability to goals and plans
-Build ways to create and manage income and wealth
-Affirm and transmit important values, ethics and virtues, particularly in the family
-Strengthen stable social and family ties.
GPW Uruguay has spearheaded the development of ‘Women Transforming Women,” a project in Montevideo, Uruguay that seeks to improve the mental health of incarcerated women. Volunteers from GPW Uruguay work with the incarcerated women to develop long-term goals, build up self esteem, improve education and job skills, as well as volunteering as a way to contribute to their community and deepen their family and social connections. The project has yielded positive improvements for the women.
“Fundamentally we acknowledge the importance of the family as the nucleus of love, compassion and forgiveness, the place where we can teach ethical and spiritual values we need to live,” Nibia said.
Webinar participants created strategies applying the GPW approach to peace building to address different mental health challenges such as student anxiety, women and depression, and substance abuse and work-life balance. Some simple actionable steps that the participants came up with to boost mental health included activities such as time management and prioritizing tasks that need to be accomplished, managing one’s emotions to gain personal control, maintaining wholesome discipline: socially, in the workplace and financially, and exercising daily for fitness.
“If we see someone who is struggling with their mental health, we should affirm them to build a culture of confidence. This would go a long way in helping them out of depression,” shared one of the participants as she encouraged other participants to be more compassionate and empathetic towards themselves and others.
Through sharing their personal experiences and developing the practical tools for growth, the participants were able to uncover intrinsic links between values, family dynamics, mental health, and the journey towards peacebuilding. These values are essential in solving problems, whether they pertain to women specifically, family or society as a whole. Register for our next webinar on Women and Families in Health: The GPW approach to Improving Family & Community Health which will be held on 23rd September, 2023.