Mental Health In Jamaica | Bathsheba Shaw

Hello everyone welcome to July. Sending you all love and light into your homes and lives. I have a brand new segment this month and it's different from the content I usually share. 

Mental Health Awareness is growing I'll give you that but how is such a widely affected area being supported in Caribbean schools, homes, even workspaces. Generations of West Indians are all raised differently and our views and the way we treat certain world issues can be very nonchalant. It can be due to lack of education, exposure, resources etc.

I developed this project to set a tone for people reading this to really understand that not every message can be understood. Sometimes it really takes a village to raise the volume up throughout the world to grasp what something really is. Not every home accepts and understands issues going on around the world but with the help of these interviews, I'm hoping we can really teach or give people in the around the world that even Caribbean people suffer with little to no support. 

These interviews are from real people from the Caribbean or Caribbean decent coming to the spread the word on how they are affected by Mental Health.

Let's begin 

Intro: My name is Bathsheba Shaw I am a Proud Jamaican, Dope Woman, Fierce Mental Health Advocate, Lecturer & Mental Health Practitioner. 

  • How are /were you affected by mental health?
My Mental Health Story is two-fold, the best way to put it is I have had challenging experiences in my life that has had a negative impact on my mental health as well I am a Mental Health Practitioner. Essentially the dance with Mental Health has been intricate, eye-opening & educational. My reality is that I'm impacted by the clients I serve through their experiences in addressing managing their mental Health concerns whilst managing my own.

  • My Mental Health Story
It all started four years ago I experienced a life-altering moment, at the time I was so shell-shocked and broken, all I was seeing was darkness; life for me had no meaning or purpose,I experienced a great sense of hopelessness, self-doubt, and low self-esteem. The struggle was real!! After much support from my family and friends who knew I was beside myself, I made the decision to seek help. That was a big step for me, and I'm happy I took that step towards understanding a great deal about my mental health. I was diagnosed as being clinically depressed, it was a hard pill to swallow but that was my reality even though I felt immense weakness and shame I knew I needed to do what was necessary to rebuild. Do not get it twisted, as hard as it is I would urge anyone in this struggle to not be ashamed of your story and if you're not there is hope for change in your outlook. After my experience with depression, I pledged that I would become an advocate for Mental Health, thereafter I Joined the Jamaica Mental Health Advocacy Network (JaMHAN). Today, I feel immense pride in this journey though it was tough at times I know that I can be a light in others lives who are fighting this battle.

  • How are you being supported ?

Therapy was and still continues to be my savior, my therapist is such an amazing, woman with a kind heart; it took me a couple months of therapeutic intervention to start experience a shift but it helped me in my healing process. Besides therapy, I have my family and core circle of girlfriends that have been my rock through it all. I feel much power that I am still standing !!! The truth is this is my first time sharing this story publicly and its certainly time. I am grateful for the support system I have but I also am disheartened that others have a completely different reality which makes their journey even tougher so I know there is much work to within the wider society.

  • Do you feel that schools have the tools to support the youths suffering from mental health illnesses? 

There are several existing variables that makes it humanly impossible for schools to respond to Mental Illness appropriately; these include the ability of educators to identify possible signs and make an appropriate referral where needed for intervention. Additionally, the human resource capacity to respond to a mental crisis is limited in a lot of our public schools. In Jamaica a High school can have a population of up to 2000 students with two/ three guidance counselors on staff who are also expected to facilitate classes; thus time is not devoted solely to mental health care within the school environs. the capacity of their responsibilities are challenging.

An Additional factor we can consider is the existing school culture that is influenced by a highly stereotypical society towards mental illness, we must ask ourselves the question; 1. are our students and educators prepared to deal 2. will they demonstrate a great sense of tolerance towards students with such experiences.

Many of our schools lack the therapeutic space that is needed to support students with these challenges, in fact for many the experience is worsened by virtue of the beliefs perpetuated within this space. As a society we have lengths to go, at least that is what I have seen within the Jamaican Landscape.

Ways to connect
Twitter:@herdopeness_ bee @DopeEmpowerment
Facebook:Daughter of the Promised Empowered