Women working in lower-end brothels experience poor mental health and high stress levels

Our HopeStreet Women’s Services research report (released in December 2019) found many culturally and linguistically diverse women working in the city’s lower-end brothels were experiencing poor mental health and high stress levels.

A funding grant from Women NSW provided the opportunity to develop a range of resources in collaboration with women, resulting in animated videos, calendars, conversation cards and journals in both Mandarin and Thai.

Many of these resources acted as soft entry points to deeper conversations around mental health, connecting women to support available from Women’s Services, and equipping women to support each other.

“It’s really opened a door to having more meaningful and deeper conversations around mental health. And to have tangible resources in a woman’s own language means they feel seen and can gain the support they need for their wellbeing,” said Jess Davidson, Women’s Services Manager.

“The response from women has been incredibly positive. One woman stated, ‘It’s good to talk about it, it makes me feel I am not alone, as other people experience stress too’.”

“Another said, ‘It’s created an opportunity to talk about stress as we don’t really do that. Culturally, it’s hard to talk about negative emotions.’”

The team also delivered online workshops to women focusing on giving women skills to support themselves and others. After workshops, participants’ self-reported their level of confidence in supporting a stressed friend increased by 60 percent.

For many women, being intrinsically involved in the development process of the resources brought great satisfaction and accomplishment, “That was the day I felt confidence and joy, when I was having a difficult time”.

The resources developed will continue to be used to support women, in addition to broader services offered by HopeStreet. You can watch the animations developed as part of this project in Thai and Mandarin.