Sarah McGuinness is a mental fitness and wellbeing champion, corporate wellness specialist, founder, mum, and cyclist. For more information, please go to sarahmcguinness.co.nz

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What is Take Care?

Championing change through our stories

Change is needed

While women in New Zealand have experienced tremendous positive social change over the last century, we still carry the burden of unpaid domestic work and care, are statistically more likely to be paid less, be unemployed, and at least one in three will experience violence and abuse. Depression is twice as common in women as it is in men, with one in five New Zealand women developing depression some time in their lives.

Life in the modern world

For many women, life in the modern world can be both awesome and hugely challenging. Modern life has made it easier to do more than before and we have a high level of life satisfaction in New Zealand compared to other countries.

However, pressures created by gender discrimination and factors such as a lack of financial stability, poverty, and overwork, can have a substantial impact on our mental health.

We also live in an age of unrealistic expectations. Studies show it is almost normal for women to experience unrelenting societal pressure to appear successful and ‘perfect’ (which includes, but is not limited to, body, diet, career, exercise regime, home décor, and family life).

To that end, there are now two conflicting value-sets for Kiwi women in society – equality and traditional gender roles – and we are somehow expected to fulfill both (i.e. ‘manage everything’). In my view, this is neither sustainable nor helpful.

These common challenges can be highly stressful and they limit our ability, as women, to thrive and reach our potential.

 

We have unique stories that need to be told

Of course, women are not a homogeneous group. Within our country parameters, women’s experiences of life and wellbeing can be vastly different. New Zealand has more than 200 ethnicities alone. Other factors that can influence our wellbeing and life experience include our: geographical location, experiences of being a mother or child-free, career and workplace environment, physical abilities, culture and identity, beliefs, and social and family connection.

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Take Care seeks to improve women's mental health by providing women with a platform to share their honest stories about real life.

Through this project, I'm (together with colleagues and hopefully you!) determined to improve women’s mental wellbeing and ‘lift the lid’ on the experiences of women (aged 30 to 60) in the modern world.

Creating change through stories

At its heart, Take Care seeks to acknowledge the range of challenges that modern women face, while also creating hope, help, and solidarity through stories and solutions.

It will give visibility to Kiwi women, aged between 30 and 60 years, from all walks of life.

We are focusing on women aged between 30 and 60 years for the distinct biological, psychological and social changes that occur during those ages.

The project asks, how do we cope and take care? What are our experiences of trying to take care? What are the barriers and what steps can we take to address them?

Take Care is set to be a powerful and enduring project that enables diverse women’s voices to heard, their faces seen, and their real and honest experiences shared, in the hope that these stories will resonate with the world on its journey towards equality and inclusion.

Grounded in psychology, the project aims to be realistic, positive and affirming and will draw on the knowledge that community support is powerfully protective. With our collective narrative, we also want to passionately challenge the world to consider how we can better support women to thrive.

Join us

I hope you’ll join us to share your story and share the stories of others. Together, we are stronger. Together, we can make a difference.

Founder, Sarah McGuinness
Sources: Mental Health Foundation, 2019; Ministry of Health, 2019; World Health Organisation, 2019.