Mental health has been a neglected topic in the Caribbean due to social, cultural and economic reasons. Unemployment and poverty has been some of the contributing factors that have deteriorated people’s mental health.
There is still a stigma of mental health in the West Indies, particularly due to the diverse cultural population of Chinese, Indians and Africans. Some consider themselves to be modern whilst others follow their cultural traditions and associate mental difficulties as a personal failing. This has developed a barrier for many citizens of the Caribbean to seek help.
There is potential for anyone globally to be impacted by mental health difficulties and more than half of adults experience diagnosable mental health illnesses each year. Very few of these adults seek support from a therapist or psychologist. The Centre of Disease Control and prevention has distinguished a difference between mental health and mental illness. Mental illness is characterised by alterations in peoples thinking patterns – these can be unhelpful to the patient causing distressing emotions and as a result they tend to ruminate in unhelpful behaviours. Overtime, this can deteriorate which reinforces the unhelpful thought patterns and behaviours.
Mental health on the other hand is the patient’s ability to cope with the stressors in life and recognise and is a state of wellbeing.
Here are some pointers to remember if you are ever feeling low.
- You Are Not Alone
Sometimes by not talking about how you feel makes you feel more alone and isolated – that you are the only one struggling each day. By talking more with people you trust, you may find that, you are not alone.
- Accept It
This does not mean that you LOVE having depression! It means that you are accepting of yourself and acknowledge that you have depression. Acceptance may help you with the next step of seeking help rather than being in denial and struggling to cope each day.
- Talk About It
Hiding how you feel may only intensify your shame. Talking about it with people you trust such as a friend or your family may feel like a release. If you’re fearful they may not understand, talk about it and educate them on the topic they can learn from you and this may change their views as well as how to support you.
- Seek Help
Don’t be afraid to seek help from a professional. Having a safe space to talk about your uncensored thoughts can help you reflect and guide you to find who you are again, feel more satisfied and fulfilled within yourself and life.
Make an appointment with your doctor to express how you’re feeling, medication is also available should you be struggling with your emotions.
Here are some simple questions to ask yourself if you are considering seeking mental health support.
Do you feel ‘stuck’ and ‘overwhelmed’ with life?
Do you experience frequent anxiety or worry?
Do you feel so overwhelmed, sad, or angry that you want to hurt yourself and/or others?
Are you finding it difficult to cope?
Speak to your doctor or a therapist to discuss your difficulties, you do not have to struggle alone!