Thu | Apr 2, 2020

A safe space for talking mental health

Published:Friday | August 16, 2019 | 12:16 AM
 The first staging saw millennials getting involved in a passionate discussion on toxic masculinity.
The first staging saw millennials getting involved in a passionate discussion on toxic masculinity.

Sometimes sharing your story is the first step on the path to recovery or ­managing your mental health.

Safe Space Jamaica, conceptualised in September 2016, started as part of a WE-Change Social and Economic Justice Programme. The initiative is focused on mental health awareness, education, and advocacy.

Led then by an all-female team comprising Eleanor Terrelonge, Francine Derby, Shauna Franklin, Chereese Ricketts, Shaneka Hall, Charlene Wright, and Sasha Solomon, Safe Space Jamaica has paved the way as a true support group and as a resource pool for young people who are struggling or living with a mental illness. A safe space is an environment, ­virtual or physical, where people can feel free to share their experiences and are able to interact with others who can offer them help and support.

The initiative, recently relaunched in partnership with Jamaica Moves, Centred JA, and the Jamaica Mental Health Advocacy Network, seeks to raise awareness about mental health in Jamaica while providing avenues for people to acquire counselling and get the help they need.

PASSIONATE DISCUSSIONS

The most recent development of the initiative is its ‘Talking Over Tacos’, a monthly open-floor series that invites Jamaicans to be part of a physical safe space at Chilitos while also giving participants the opportunity to talk freely, hear riveting conversations, and partake, in different forms of entertainment. The first staging saw millennials getting involved in a passionate discussion on toxic masculinity. The second session takes place on Thursday, August 22, and will focus on post-­graduation depression. Funds raised from the series will go towards providing free counselling services to individuals who cannot afford public/private counselling.

Changing the discussion we have culturally about mental illness by breaking the silence is one step. We also need to tackle the stigmatisation associated with being mentally unwell or ill.

Persons interested can email safespaceja@gmail.com or visit @safespaceja on social media.