July 13th 2022

Self-Care in South Sudan


Self-care is an important part of feeling healthy, mentally well, and able to carry out daily activities. For women living in challenges circumstances in South Sudan, practicing self-care equips them with the tools to manage their own health and wellbeing.

Self-Care Training

In May, a mental health awareness and self-care training was the first of a series organised by HealthNet TPO with the Terekeka Women Association in South Sudan under the project Leaders of Peace. Understanding self-care equips and entrusts women and youth-led groups with techniques to help them cope better with daily stressors, allowing them to take a central role in their own health and wellbeing.

Mental Health Awareness

The first training was attended by 15 women, including some women from the Terekeka Women Association, and was facilitated by HealthNet TPO and psychosocial focal points - trained community members who support people in their communities who are experiencing or impacted by mental health and psychosocial concerns.

Day one concentrated on improving knowledge and awareness of mental health conditions that might affect women in their communities. Many women recognised the signs and symptoms of depression from within their communities and personal lives. Some shared their own stories of loss and perseverance.

One lady described her experiences after losing her husband. “I lost my husband nine years ago and my eldest son shortly after that. All the property my husband owned was quickly taken by his family, my in-laws and I was left with nothing. I started struggling for myself and my 17 year old boy. I was at the lowest during that time and the last option in mind was suicide, but I stayed strong. I joined the Terekeka Women Association, and they supported me so much until I could get back on my feet. I moved to Terekeka town and I started my business of a local restaurant in the Market… You see, if there was nobody around to talk to, I wouldn’t be here attending this workshop now.”

A psychosocial focal point and women from Terekeka meet for a training on self-care

Managing Stress

The second day focused on understanding and managing stress. The women were led through a deep breathing exercise, focusing on the breath to relax their mind and body – an exercise that they could practice at home. Many women shared stories of how they deal with different daily stressors themselves. One woman shared, “I channel all the energy (especially if I am angry) into doing something productive, like going to the garden to dig and weed the plants. By the time I done my anger has reduced and will feel tired and ready to sleep. The next day I feel better equipped to address the issue.”

Community-based healing

Bringing women together to share knowledge and strengthen bonds and networks is a vital component of HealthNet TPO's community-based interventions. Creating spaces to allow people to feel safe and talk openly whilst learning from others contributes to improving wellbeing and fosters collective healing. The training will continue in the rest of the Payams with different women groups, facilitated by the psychosocial focal points.

The training will also be available to youth-groups and schools through the Champions of Change activities. Many young girls and boys, particularly who live in rural areas, struggle with their own mental health but are completely unaware about what that means, or how to cope. Some do not understand that what is happening to them when symptoms of anxiety begin to manifest, and sometimes normal support systems like families, are not there.

Find out more about the Leaders of Peace project