Fri | Dec 1, 2023

ACE Institute spearheading ‘Paint for Mental Health’ initiative

Published:Friday | December 9, 2022 | 12:15 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
Lakin Nedrick (left), managing director of the ACE Institute in Montego Bay, St James, engages students of the Montego Bay Community College in a discussion on mental health.
Lakin Nedrick (left), managing director of the ACE Institute in Montego Bay, St James, engages students of the Montego Bay Community College in a discussion on mental health.


THE ST JAMES-based Accredited Certification Expedited (ACE) Institute is seeking to bring greater awareness about management of mental health through the use of its ‘Paint for Mental Health’ creative team-building workshops in 2023, to help persons with mental health issues express themselves through artwork.

Lakin Nedrick, managing director of the ACE Institute, told The Gleaner that the initiative’s objective is to educate the general public about the adverse social and emotional effects of mental illness on individuals, families, the different inner-city communities, and the wider Jamaica.

“Our unique team-building activity enables companies to motivate their employees, while creating unique, engaging and highly enjoyable artworks as a cohesive group,” said Nedrick.

“The team here at the ACE Institute is therefore requesting that corporate companies, government agencies, the private sector, the micro, small, and medium enterprise sector, churches, and the general public invite us to host a workshop for their staff members in 2023 for the new year,” he added.

Continuing, Nedrick stated: “Art is about expression. At various moments, life sometimes feels heavy, and possessing a creative outlet to resort to when you are not confident about how to articulate what you feel can be invaluable. Art is an expression that can be used to connect us with the world around us.”

Nedrick, who was herself diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2009, explained that she made a crucial and personal connection between art therapy and mental health wellness during her journey to manage her condition, which, in turn, led to the ACE Institute’s creation in 2020.

“On my journey to recovery over the years, I discovered the interlinkage between painting and the effective management of my mental health and wellness, and I made the linkage between painting and mental health in 2020,” Nedrick outlined.

“The secret that I used to turn my life around was recreational therapy in the form of painting and colouring. I discovered that as a patient at the Cornwall Regional Hospital, as I always painted or coloured whenever I would get admitted there.”

The issue of mental health awareness in Jamaica has been addressed by different stakeholder groups in recent times, with the Ministry of Health and Wellness launching the ‘U-Matter’ chat line in March this year to provide mental health support for Jamaican youth between the ages of 16-24.

The chat line was launched in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund and the Caribbean Child Development Centre.

That launch took place at the same time when the Ministry of Health and Wellness reported that up to 60 per cent of persons treated at hospitals for attempted suicides are adolescents and young people under age 24.

Additionally, in October this year, the ministry of health launched a $10-million School Mental Health Literacy Programme to give mental health training to 500 professionals across the country’s 177 secondary institutions over a three-month period.

That programme, which is set to benefit some 21,000 grade-nine students, is geared towards creating a curriculum on how to appropriately respond to students’ mental health challenges and conditions, thus raising awareness in schools to improve students’ attitude, confidence and knowledge, as well as to reduce stigma surrounding the issue.

In the meantime, Nedrick envisions creating a larger platform, including over social media, for her planned art therapy initiative to take root.

Persons seeking more information about the Paint for Mental Health initiative can contact the ACE Institute at 876-995-2360 or, visit its office at 29 Union Street, Montego Bay, St James, or follow its platforms on YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook.

“Art can be a healing act, a balm for the soul and mind. Painting is a meditative act and is a generally enjoyable activity, plus it is incredibly good for your mental health and well-being,” said Nedrick.

She said, in summarising the initiative: “Now it is time to take out the paintbrushes and easels, embrace your creativity and ‘Paint for Mental Health’. I am also seeking sponsorship for a YouTube talk show series on the topic of mental health.”