Depression has been regarded by the UN World Health Organization as the three major diseases of the new century (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/). According to the UN World Health Organization, there are at least about 50 million people with depression in Asia and their numbers are on the rise (http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/254610/1/WHO-MSD-MER-2017.2-eng.pdf). By 2020, depression and heart disease will have become the top two diseases that affect human lives (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/). Currently, there are about 2 million people suffering from depression in Taiwan, and 97% of them don’t reach out for help (http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/254610/1/WHO-MSD-MER-2017.2-eng.pdf) .
Now WARM (Women Anonymous Reconnecting Mentally) is trying to do something about it. Since December, 2017, we have been supporting women’s mental health, and we have become a necessary part of their lives. WE ARE THE FIRST AND ONLY support group in Taiwan, we have been improving and inspiring women’s lives for the better since December, 2017.
Mental illness is extremely stigmatized in Taiwan. Treatments of depression in Taiwanese clinics are poorly covered by health insurance. On top of that, a single therapy session can cost about 100-120 USD.
In WARM, we meet up every Sunday, providing women a safe platform to discuss anything that is plaguing their mental health. Generally speaking, in Taiwan, a therapy session is 50 minutes a week, a doctor’s visit is about 10-20 minutes a week, once we leave the clinics, we are all on our own again. WARM is trying to break that cycle and create a community that offers support 24/7. We further post encouraging posts in our Facebook group and interactive questions or weekly challenges, such as: “look into the mirror and say ‘I accept you’ for three times, comment below and get a chance on this exclusive WARM gift”. We make sure that we incentivize women every single day without failing.
We see how women are empowered by listening and sharing. We have witnessed how topics which were previously considered “unspeakable” or “weak”, or something to “be ashamed of” for women being spoken and discussed. Sensitive topics such as rape, abortion, body image and abuse are boldly discussed in WARM. We have given our members a voice and a place to talk about their traumas. More importantly, WARM is a place for them to find closure, support and healing. WARM exemplifies that mental health is as important as physical health, no one chooses to be sick voluntarily.
Recently we have been featured in the Taiwan Observer, Taiwan News, Taipei Times, and ICRT. This shows how much society needs us and the important jobs that we are doing. We are not a group therapy but a support group. We do not offer professional treatment to “fix” people, we guide our members to seek professional help outside of the group. The WARM meeting style is based on the AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) format, providing a safe platform for women to share and encourage each other. We have a safe and effective platform for women with mental health related issues. It has been proven by past meetings that our structure is more than helpful to our members.
We hold our weekly meetings at MOWES, a community space run by and for women. Besides our weekly Sunday meetings, we have various events dedicated to mental health at different venues with a wide selection of partners to collaborate with. We are the true example of what happens when people unite, speak up and raise our voice for ourselves. Together, we can fight anything, even the profound stigma of mental illness. WARM is trying our best to not just be a support group, but a cause for de-stigmatizing mental health. Our ultimate goal for WARM is that hopefully, WARM won’t need to exist one day. When that day comes, we hope we can walk up to a stranger, and say “Hey, I don’t know you, but I support you.”.
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