Mental Health In The Caribbean | Shanice J. Douglas

  • How are /were you affected by mental health? 
At age 14, I migrated to the United States from Jamaica with my mother and siblings. Very quickly, my mental and emotional health took a nosedive from a combination of factors, including homesickness, culture shock, and a strained mother-daughter relationship.
Since then, I have become intimately familiar with depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

  • How are you being supported?
Unfortunately, the stigma attached to mental health in families and the wider society in the Caribbean is still alive and kicking.
When it was first highlighted that I may need to be taken to see a professional at age 14, my mother’s first statement was something akin to, “Oh, so you want to become one of those people that take those pills and move like a zombie.” Of course, I was never taken for professional help then, but I am grateful for that and other related experiences that have prompted me to study psychology and later become an entrepreneur focused on mental health.

Fortunately, particularly in Jamaica, there are organizations like the Jamaica Mental Health Advocacy Network (JAMHAN), companies like Witted Roots, and bloggers like Tami Tsansai are making a change in the landscape of where to find professional support and other valuable resources.

  • Do you feel that schools have the tools to support the youths suffering from mental health illnesses? 
In Jamaica, I definitely don’t believe that schools have efficient tools, policies, or structures in place to support the mental and emotional wellness of youth under their wings.
It’s an unfortunate truth that I, along with many other individuals and organizations I’m sure, hope to knock down, sooner rather than later.