Tue | Apr 7, 2020

JASW 5K to raise mental health awareness

Published:Friday | February 28, 2020 | 12:23 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer

Jamaica Association of Social Workers (JASW) President Eva Forde is hoping to use sport as a way of breaking the stigma of mental health in Jamaica.

The association will have their inaugural JASW 5k Run/Walk and Social Impact Expo in New Kingston on March 1, starting and ending at Emancipation Park.

Forde said that the creation of the event was to capitalise on the country’s appetite for events and the awareness that persons have in maintaining their physical health. She believes that social workers across the island have a responsibility to ensure that both the physical and mental health of a person is in sync.

“We are in a time now that people are paying more attention to their bodies, they are into these things like 5ks and public park spaces. So we are taking this opportunity to go where people already want to be, and we are also capitalising on it to say, physical health is important not just for the body but also for the mind,” Forde told The Gleaner.

“Which is why mental health is the major area of focus for this 5k ... it’s really important for us as social workers and for the social impact community to see this as an opportunity to bring people together to really encourage other people to take care of their bodies, take care of their minds.”

Forde says how mental health is treated has to start with how persons are taking care of themselves, and she hopes that the event will bring a change in how the issue is perceived.

“For us, mental health awareness doesn’t start with what most people think of as the mad person on the street. Mental health awareness starts with each one of us,” she said. “Are we getting the proper amount of rest? Are we doing what we need to do to alleviate stress or to avoid stress? Are we setting up spaces for people to make sure that they prevent a lot of the mental health problems that come when we don’t take care of our mental health? So that’s what we hope to highlight and encourage.”

Forde is expecting a great turnout for the event, with hundreds expected to take part. Registration for the event can be done online at the JASW website at www.gojasw.org.