Mental health awareness campaign heads to Rio Claro
Laurel V Williams
After a two-year hiatus caused by the Covid19 pandemic, the Paint De Town Green forum resumed in Rio Claro on Wednesday.
The day-long event took place in the Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation parking lot.
It commemorates World Mental Health Day, which is observed on October 10th.
The Director of the Department of Mental Health at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Hazel Othello, gave the keynote address. She told the gathering the green river is the international symbol of mental health awareness.
The Paint De Town Green Forum was the brainchild of Caroline Ravello, founder of the NGO Create Better Minds.
“It’s an annual forum for growing public awareness of mental health, as well as addressing the stigma and discrimination that so often surrounds everything related to mental health,” Othello said.
The event was hosted by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with several organizations such as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization.
Othello recalled that the 2018 Forum began at Brian Lara Promenade in Port of Spain and continued over the next year at Gulf City Mall in La Romaine. The pandemic prevented it in 2020 and 2021.
She expressed her delight at “painting the city of Rio Claro green today.”
Company chairman Raymond Cozier said that in addition to focusing on mental health, people should also pay attention to their mental, social and physical health.
He urged people to speak up about mental health issues, saying they are nothing to be ashamed of.
“Get in the habit of asking for help. we need each other Don’t be afraid or ashamed. Talk to a friend, family or professional about how you’re feeling,” he said.
Eastern Regional Health Authority CEO Ronald Tsoi-a-Fatt said he is pleased that many organizations are joining the authority for the Paint de Town Green Forum. He said green represents fertility and good health.
Tsoi-a-Fatt said: “The campaign aims to tackle the stigma associated with mental health and well-being and to promote access to and support services in communities to encourage healthy behaviors.”
PAHO representative Dr. Erica Wheeler said the stigma associated with mental disorders sometimes gets in the way, preventing people from seeking and receiving treatment.
She added that stigma can occur with friends and family, at home, at school, in the workplace, or even in healthcare facilities.
Representatives offered free services such as blood glucose testing and on-site counseling. They also distributed pamphlets and flyers about mental health.
A flyer listed “Ten Steps to Mental Health” and urged people to get involved, stay active, relax, ask for help, survive and thrive, keep in touch with friends, do something creative do, talk about it, enjoy what they do and accept who they are.
For more information, contact the Department of Health at 285-9126 ext. 2577, 2571, 2573.