Mental health and restorative practices

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Annan Boodram

The Caribbean Voice (www.caribvoice.org), a US and Guyana registered volunteer-driven, not for profit NGO focused on suicide and all forms of abuse prevention in Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica and St Vincent & the Grenadines (in partnership with sister NGO ‘Say Enough is Enough Support Group) and the Caribbean Diaspora in North America.

By Annan Boodram – The Caribbean Voice (TCV)

NEW YORK, USA – The Caribbean Voice (TCV) is a full volunteer-driven, not for profit, NGO, engaged in suicide and abuse prevention. We launched our campaign in Guyana in 2014, where we have played a significant role, in collaboration with other stakeholders, to significantly reduce suicide and to bring attention to mental health in general.

Last year we started working in St Vincent and the Grenadines, through a local NGO. This year we launched in Trinidad and Tobago as well as in Jamaica and Barbados. We also operate in the Caribbean Diaspora in North America, and we do plan to get into other Caribbean nations as well.

The five pillars of our work are research and information dissemination; awareness building and training; advocacy and lobbying; fostering stakeholders’ collaboration for social activism and counselling intervention.

As we did in Guyana in 2015, in Trinidad and Tobago we are planning a national conference on suicide and abuse next year with other collaborators. We also plan to launch the Gatekeepers’ training program to train individuals to be the eyes and ears of their communities so that suicide and abuse can be tackled proactively rather than reactively.  And because we raise most of our funds ourselves, we hope to launch our fundraiser series, Concert For Hope, in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, next year.

The most critical aspect of our work is counselling, which is offered free of charge. Since we launched our campaign, we have offered counselling to almost 500 persons in over 25 nations. Our highly trained and experienced team of counsellors, drawn from Guyana, Jamaica the US, and the UK.

We counsel on suicide, child abuse, sexual abuse, depression, stress, self-harm such as cutting and bullying. We also refer to other cases such as alcoholism, drugs, and various direct mental illnesses to the government and other professionals for help.

We also bring stakeholders together to observe World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10, every year, through candlelight vigils nationally and we are hoping that we will be able to get communities across the Caribbean to hold vigils starting next year.

As well, we want to include other Caribbean nations in observing 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. This is a global endeavour held from November 25 to December 10, every year. This year we urge abuse victims to speak out so others can be motivated to walk away from abusive relationships.

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