‘Mad Out’ deejay Valiant discusses mental health awareness with Bellevue Hospital
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Fast-rising dancehall star Valiant says when he recorded his hit single, Mad Out, he knew it would spark much-needed conversation about mental health in Jamaica. In fact, the artiste said he was just waiting to see who would reach out and extend an invitation to engage him in a discussion while looping in his fan base. Turns out, the island’s leading psychiatric hospital, Bellevue, was more than excited to partner with the entertainer to raise awareness around the issue.
Mad Out, currently the number one trending dancehall song on YouTube, has amassed close to four million views in under a month. The video features Valiant and actors playing the role of mentally-ill patients dancing and having a good time time while evading psychiatric nurses seeking to sedate them and return them to the hospital.
But more important than racking up numbers, Valiant’s team reasoned, was the song’s ability to connect with people going through difficulties.
“I hope what everybody realises is that what the song has done is make it Ok for people to say, ‘I’m actually not OK, I’m not fine, a mad we a mad out.’ There is a stigma surrounding mental health and so you don’t have many people who are Ok with saying, ‘I’m not fine, I’m depressed.’ Now, people are more willing to express themselves,” said Jade of Valiant’s handlers Major Marketing.
She was speaking Thursday afternoon at a specially organised seminar at the Bellevue Hospital, where Valiant and his Diplomat Records team engaged the institution’s CEO, Suzette Buchanan, in meaningful discussion on mental health.
Valiant, who revealed that he has a friend who suffers from Schizophrenia, said he believes mental health doesn’t get the attention it needs in Jamaica, and he wishes to use his popularity to raise awareness on the issue.
“There is a part in my video that I don’t think most people see. It says at the end, ‘It’s important to be respectful of those who may be struggling with mental illness. We want to use this music video to raise awareness and start conversations about mental health, so I’m glad we’re here,” Valiant said “The team saw the vision from early and so we weren’t surprised. I don’t really understand the terms or the places but I knew some type of mental health institute would have reached out. Mi work with strategy.”
He suggested that he has succeeded in gaining the public’s attention as not only is Bellevue trending on social media, but users are engaging persons at the facility and actively seeking help. The entertainer, therefore, challenged Bellevue Hospital and the powers that be to come up with even more ways to help those crying out for assistance.
“This now is where the big bosses and the Government should come in and take steps to create ways and opportunities for people to get the help they need without getting rejected when they do. Basically, when dem people here get help and come back, a start dem a start over so mi want unu fi create programmes or supmn fi help bring dem back into life and support them,” he said. “Mi want unu fo keep communication with the people fi hear what kind a support dem want and give them the help.”
Buchanan said the Ministry of Health has been working closely with the facility to see how best it can offer the kind of assistance Valiant suggested.
“Of course, we fall under his ministry and Minister Tufton has committed to helping us in whatever way we need. Recently, in his sectoral presentation, we were given $150 million to do some well-needed work and see how best we can improve the facility,” she said. “Some of them (the patients) can work so we want to make sure they get any help they need from us here at Bellevue.”