In autumn 2017 we set up a women’s health discussion group who started meeting once a month at Chapel FM. With a cup of tea and a biscuit, we have talked about all aspects of physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing. During these conversations we have collected really valuable stories which tell us about women’s health in the past and the present. The group members have also got a huge amount out of the discussions: they’ve had the opportunity to share their stories and listen to others; they have felt comfortable enough to open up about health experiences which they hadn’t talked about before; and they now know that they aren’t going through things alone. And there’s been a lot of laughter.

You can listen to a clip of one of our conversations here, when we discussed what it has been like to be part of the group

The impact of the group:

‘I think because we talk about mental health well-being and other health issues within the group it makes things a lot easier to cope with as l feel you’re never on your own someone has always experienced something similar if not the same.’

‘Being in a group and discussing life and problems in general does make you think and opens up thoughts that you probably had forgotten or maybe even put to the back of your mind. I do think it helps. Talking in general to other people definitely helps and makes you feel better in some way. I have enjoyed being in the group and the social aspects of it.’

‘A group such as the women’s health group is supportive with both listening skills and understanding. The members demonstrate empathy and ensure confidentiality in a “safe” space.’

‘I have enjoyed attending the meetings and listening to what others have had to say and knowing that others have had similar experiences to me.’

‘Being part of the Women’s Health Group has opened up my world. It has given me time to reflect on my past worries and fears. My wellbeing wasn’t good at the time I joined the group. My mental health was at an all time low. It’s only through talking to the other members that I was able to reach out and talk about my feelings. I had papered over the cracks, denying my depression and anxiety. I found great comfort in talking to the other members of the group. They are a source of strength and I now count them as friends. It’s a nice feeling of belonging. The group has helped me to cope with painful memories of growing up. The good thing is I am able to talk with ease and I have gained strength and confidence through being with them. A door has been opened to me and finding the ability to speak to others is a boost to my morale. I appreciate our friendship and I have gained confidence, being around them has released a lot of my anxiety. I am happy to be around them and enjoy being in their company listening to them relate stories from their lives.’


We are now developing a Mental Health History pack, in collaboration with the Mental Health Museum and the Leeds Older People’s Forum. This activity pack will be a free resource for groups, and it will have two important aims:

  1. To help people to learn about the history of mental health and wellbeing
  2. To encourage people to have more open and inclusive conversations about mental health and wellbeing

We have some ideas about what we would like to include and we will be collecting feedback from groups over the autumn and winter. We also invite you to tell us what you think in the comments box at the bottom of this page or email jessica.hammett@bristol.ac.uk.

You can download the draft pack or scroll through below.

Content Warning: This pack contains information about the history of mental health. This is a difficult history, and some of the information may be upsetting or emotionally challenging. If you are affected by any of the information you read you might need to take a break: you could sit down, get some fresh air, have a cup of tea, or have a chat with a friend.

The last page of the pack includes some simple self-care activities which you could try. The MindWell Leeds website has lots of useful resources.

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Thank you to John Ravi for sharing the timeline produced for the Glenside Hospital Museum. 

If you are a researcher working on challenging or sensitive topics you may be interest to read Researcher Wellbeing: Guidelines for History Researchers

We would like to thank the ESRC and the Leeds Community Foundation: Leeds Fund for supporting our work on women’s health and wellbeing.



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