Holistic Wellness Community supporting women's mental health through connection – Mandurah Mail

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Women’s circles are becoming more popular as women struggle under societal expectations and find that “the wheels are falling off”.
This is according to the Meelon-based founders of Holistic Wellness Community (HWC) – a community supporting mental health and well-being through events and meet-ups.
The network is designed to nurture individuals through connection, creativity, exercise, mindfulness and play.
Co-founder of HWC, Carolyne Forte, said the expectation on women these days “is just too great”.
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“Feminism did so much for us to bring up the quality of life for men and women. What is happening now is there’s an expectation that women can and should do it all,” Ms Forte said.
“Between having a full-time job and careers and raising children, meeting up with your friends, being a soccer mum, showing up in different places, the wheels are really falling off.
“The anxiety – and men feel it too – we are experiencing in that pace of life is too much because the expectations are too great.”
Women turning to women is not something new, and one of the techniques used by HWC is to create positive mental health outcomes through authentic community connection.
“Women’s business has been going on forever – if you look at all the Indigenous cultures they have women’s business and men’s business. They can come together and share their wisdom,” Ms Forte said.
The HWC hosts regular events including fortnightly mental health check-ins, sound healing and drumming circles, as well as a weekend-long festival called the Fearless Women’s Forest Gathering in Dwellingup – which has mental health professionals on-site.
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The event allows women to “tick so many things off their bucket list and see what they jam with”. Activities and games include a flying fox, fire twirling, arts and crafts, theatre, dance and storytelling. There is a team of Indigenous women leading activities as well as facilitators from “around the world”.

Everyone is made to feel welcomed and part of a community. There is one area that is specifically designed to make people feel included – a “connection circle” where attendees can meet each other and facilitators.
According to HWC co-founder Michelle Cherry, the women-only (and those who identify as women) setting allows attendees to “feel more confident and courageous because they’re feeling cheered-on in a safe space”.
“It refills their cups. They can go home in a clearer head-space and it ripples out to the community, their children, their partners,” Ms Cherry said.
“They haven’t had the responsibility of taking care of their kids of making dinner or doing the washing for a weekend and they can just focus on themselves. The ripple effects of that normally last for months.”
Ms Forte and Ms Cherry began working together in 2020 when they saw a gap in the market for a holistic wellness community that could work for women, men and children, and their mental health. Both came from the wellness and health sectors working with women.
“The further along we go everyone is so isolated and the pace of life is so fast and everyone is riddled with anxiety and depression,” Ms Forte said.
“We try to provide events, retreats and festivals where the outcomes are positive mental health and authentic connection. It’s almost like a place to come home to, where you can feel safe, seen, and be you, without wearing any masks and pretending to be anybody you are not.”

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