The family and mental health
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on the need for closer attention to be placed on mental-health issues. Many children are now acting up, with some having suicidal thoughts which leave their parents concerned, baffled and feeling out of their depths about how to cope.
How can children, they wonder, who are being raised in such a loving environment be having these issues when they are receiving so much love?
In 2021, based on information from suicidal and mental health hotlines, between October 2019 and October 2020, there were 753 calls with most of them from females. Half of those calls were from persons dealing with anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts – with anxiety and depression being the most common.
Paula Kaye Taylor, who spends her spare time as a mental health coach, said she is passionate about it as there is so much work to be done regarding Jamaicans understanding what mental health is really about.
Taylor uses her YouTube channel, The Stilled Soul, as well as interacts on a one-on-one basis with others, all in an effort to share information about the different types of mental health issues.
In an interview with Family and Religion, Taylor said for many Jamaicans, it is the fear element and lack of understanding which cause some to be hostile and even cruel towards persons suffering with mental health issues.
“Because persons are not knowledgeable about the different types of mental health issues, they latch on to the worst case scenario when we talk about it. For example, they only think about mentally ill people on the road, as opposed to acknowledging that anybody from any sphere of life can have a mental-health struggle in that way,” she said.
Bringing the issue closer to the family circle, Taylor noted that some families deal with mental health issues better than others. However, she pointed out that there is a lot more to be done in terms of education on how to deal with mental health issues in the family.
Zoning in on those who go berserk and attack their family members or others, Taylor said that although they should deal with the consequences of their actions, the mental-health factor dictates that they should also be treated with compassion and be counselled.
She also highlighted family members who are frustrated as they try time and time again to get their loved ones off the mean streets and on medication, only to see them in short order, finding their way back to their old comfort zones.
She encouraged family members not to give up in their efforts to do the best that they can for their mentally challenged relatives.
She calls for adequate resources from the state to assist families like those with more assistance at the community level.
“I also encourage the wider society to seek information on mental health issues, as help is available. It is a work of knowledge. You can look into what the different mental health issues are and learn about them so that you can identify the symptoms in your family and offer support,” she said, pointing out that social support is really helpful when you are dealing with mental health issues.