The Way I See It

Nevispages feature by Curtis Morton

The way I see it, anyone can become affected by some form or other of mental illness.

This week, the Mental Health Unit on Nevis, joined the rest of the world, in observing Mental Health day and this they did with the hosting of several key activities.  One such activity was a panel discussion, which was held at NEPAC, featuring several professionals of varying spheres of life, to deal with a wide variety of related topics.

These included inputs from the Police, the Clergy, The Labour Department, Doctors, Nurses, and other individuals.  I was also asked to give input on ‘The role of the media on Mental illness.’

I used the opportunity to point out that the media can affect the issue, positively or negatively.

On the negative end, a lot of it is done through the SENSATIONAL type pf reporting. When reporters go out of the way to blow up the negative elements of a potential story, highlighting those aspects that they think are JUICY, simply to attract readers.

The positive aspects would involve reporting on the elements that will point people to a more uplifting path, highlighting those aspects that are moral and ethical and ought to be emulated.

Sadly, that kind of story is considered boring and not alluring.

My stand out feature for the day, however, was the brave testimonial given by Miss Kamara Louisy, who told the sad tale that she actually attempted suicide on not one but two occasions.

Well, I newa!

The first time, she referred to as ‘accidental’, in the sense that all she wanted to do at the time was to get some sleep and because she could not get to sleep, she kept taking the sleeping pills, until she passed out.  Fortunately, she survived.

The second time, she reacted to a stressful period in her life and actually attempted to hang herself.  She passed out but regained consciousness and has lived to tell the story.

Her efforts now are laudable, in the sense that she now uses social media and such open forums, to tell her story and let parents, children, and everybody know that ANYBODY can become distressed enough to have mental health issues and may even resort to committing suicide.

She pointed to the fact that people still used to see her smiling in town and that is the happy go lucky side of her that I always saw.

I always saw her as a lively, forthright girl, with not a care in the world and one who was willing to speak her mind.  She, however, pointed out that in most cases, the eternal smile was a MASK, as she did not want people to know what she was going through.  There were many days when she did not feel like getting out of bed and going to work.

She made the telling revelation that there are many persons in our society—in our homes, in our schools, in our churches, at our works places etc who are going through some serious stressful and hurting situations and some of them are also very good at MASKING it for the time being, but one day, unless they get help, the bubble will burst.

Through her openness, many students have approached her for advice and counselling because their parents do not know, understand nor appreciate what they are going through.

At this juncture, I urge ALL parents to go and have a serious chat with your children and befriend them and get to find out what things are affecting them negatively and get them the help they need!

What was even more astonishing, was the revelation from Social Worker, Anesta Maynard-Wallace, that among the many issues that her department has to deal with on a regular basis, that a group of five girls within one of our High schools, has formed a SUICIDE PACT and the plan was—(before it was intercepted), that they were all going to kill themselves and go out together.

Well, I newa!

They are currently being counselled and receiving well-needed help.

The thing is, some people hurt in silence, while others are loud, but we have to be more discerning and seek to assist whenever and wherever possible.

I also pointed out that a long time ago, I was of the thinking that those persons who were considered CRAZY, had already fallen over the proverbial cliff and those of us who think we are SANE, were far away from the cliffside, in a safe zone.  However, I have since learned that those of us who think we are sane, are standing right by the cliff’s edge and it takes one critical misfortune to tip us over the edge.  It could be the death of a close relative; a failure at an exam; a cheating spouse – you name it.

Different people react differently to similar circumstances and what I may just allow passing like water off a duck’s back, can have life-changing effects on another person.
So, in conclusion, God made us as a society of persons who ought to be caring and loving and being ‘OUR BROTHER’S KEEPER’ and ‘LOVE YOU NEIGHBOUR AS YOURSELF’, kind of people.

It means that we should not rejoice if someone comes down with a mental illness, because we will never know when it will be the turn of one of our family members or even more significantly— my turn or your turn.

That’s the way I see it. How do you see it?

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