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Therapeutic Friendship Benches

A unique mental health project called the Friendship Bench has seen great success in Zimbabwe and is expanding to various cities around the world. At the Friendship Bench, visitors can sit with an elderly woman to hear words of wisdom and stories that help alleviate anxiety and depression. The grandmothers offering support are community health workers who are trained to tackle various mental health issues like loneliness, stress, and PTSD. The grandmothers’ warm presence allows visitors to feel comfortable conversing about issues in their lives. The Friendship Bench has made mental health care more accessible in poor, rural areas of Zimbabwe, and the movement has spread to places like Kenya, Vietnam, and London. So far, the Friendship Bench has treated over 280,000 bench visitors. All visits begin the same way— with a grandmother asking, “Would you like to share your story with me?”

Image via Positive News


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