First of its kind Menopause Café provides essential support for women

20th October 2022
Menopause Café attendees

To mark World Menopause Day on 18 October 2022 Social Workers within the Down GP Multi-Disciplinary Team held their first ever Menopause Café event in a local community restaurant in Ballynahinch.

This exciting new initiative was born out of a successful and empowering menopause health seminar which was attended by over 100 women and facilitated by retired breast surgeon Dr Gwyneth Hinds, earlier this year. The seminar focused on the worldwide need for peer support for women who were seeking to educate and empower themselves to make individual choices about their care throughout their menopause journey. The message was to consider a holistic approach to their health and provided the attendees with a very positive message of hope.

The Menopause Café model aims to raise awareness of this often taboo subject and to provide support for women living with this misunderstood issue. At the inaugural Café held earlier this week, up to 40 ladies heard from Assistant Psychologist, Dearbhail Lynch why poor memory and poor mood can occur and discussed real life strategies to manage the distress that this can cause. Information was provided on nutrition, exercise and strategies to manage ‘brain fog’, which is a very common and a frustrating menopause symptom.

Senior Social Work Practitioner, Judy Bingham, who was one of the coordinators of the event said, “It is surprising how much myth and misinformation there still is around the subject of Menopause. Women need support and accurate health information, so the Menopause Café is a great way of ensuring that women are getting the correct advice and help break the stigma which still seems to exist around the Menopause. I am delighted that our first ever Menopause Café event was so well received. The atmosphere was nurturing and enabled the women who attended to discuss practical ways to change some unhealthy lifestyle habits, including negative thinking patterns.”

One of the participants explained, “It’s good to talk to people who are experiencing the same issues, I don’t feel alone anymore. I now understand that it is important to take some time out to look after myself.”

Another woman indicated that they felt very comfortable at the event, adding, “Tonight had a real buzz about it and the speakers have made me realise that I need to be less negative about myself. I need to eat healthier and take more exercise and I will be using the CBT techniques I learned tonight to help me to manage my anxiety.”

Each of the women who attended were given a Menopause Survival Kit to take away with them, this small but significant gift containing items that addressed different aspects of the issues they may face through each of their individual menopause journeys. Some of the items included in the survival kit were; a fan, for some relief from the hot sweats, a paperclip, to help keep it together, a candle, to remind them there is light at the end of the tunnel and a penny, to wish them luck. This thoughtful gesture was appreciated by all who attended raising a lot of smiles and laughter around an often sensitive subject. The organisers of the event hope that when the women who attended are having a bad day they will use their survival kit to remind them that they are supported and they have the tools that they need to cope.

The Menopause Café will be held in the Down area once a month and will be rolled out across the rest of the Trust area in the future. Upcoming sessions will cover a wide variety of subjects including; women’s health, nutrition, fitness, sexual health and life coaching. The Multi Disciplinary Team Social Workers also have plans to host additional events to compliment the Menopause Café such as a walk and talk group, cold water swimming, menopause yoga and park runs.

Information on upcoming events will be posted on the Trust Website, Facebook and Twitter.