Community Empowerment
These workshops were designed to provide information and self-help techniques in order to increase the participants’ self-confidence and a sense of personal responsibility, employing an integrated model which incorporates a variety of evidence-based aspects related to mental health and general wellbeing. They were originally commissioned by South Lanarkshire Council for a group of participants exhibiting symptoms of depression, anxiety, self-harm and relationship problems, residing in one of the areas of multiple deprivation in Scotland.

To facilitate personal support when appropriate and maximise benefits to each participant, these workshops are limited to small groups. This can be adapted for larger groups.

The sessions are planned in a way that, three weeks of background information (in the first part) would be followed by two mainly practical sessions giving specific strategies for dealing with feeling arousals and how to remain functional during a crisis.

The theoretical part of the workshops is delivered in plain, everyday language, directed at right and left brain, with delivery elements borrowed from CBT, NLP, Milton Erickson, Human Givens and Brief Therapy.
Reference to supporting research is available to health professionals.

Understanding different aspects of different issues also is intended to heighten the participants’ sense of empowerment and hope. It is now well known that social deprivation and disempowerment are closely related to mental and physical ill health.

To monitor effectiveness, relevance and the interest of the participants in this approach, a short anonymous continuous evaluation feedback is conducted at the end of each session followed by a final remit-focused evaluation at the end of the last session. This allows for a degree of customisation. Although the programme is set, it allows flexibility within its framework in order to keep the workshops relevant to each participant.

Information about the participants’ individual issues is also gathered through anonymous short questionnaires and interweaved into the workshops during the first part of the sessions in order to maintain anonymity and deflect the focus away from individual mental conditions, allowing participants to learn about their various issues in a wider, more balanced context.

Learning to relax and experiencing relaxation also has an important part to play as a strategy to lower emotional arousal and as a sustainable tool that can be used by the participants as they require. Three different examples of relaxation techniques are demonstrated to participants, graded from simplest and easiest to the ones that require the most focus. The grading aspect is introduced as a learning process to maximise effectiveness and long-term sustainability.
Community Empowerment 2