THERE is still a lot of stigma attached to mental health issues, and it is often a taboo topic in Jamaica. However, in more recent times, more people are speaking up about it. One passionate young woman has made it her mission to break the silence with MIND â€” an awareness initiative focused on starting conversations on mental health issues.
Her name is Rachel Seaton, a 24-year-old university student, model and aspiring digital marketer. Seaton conceptualised Mental Issues Nobody Discusses (MIND) in 2022 after being misdiagnosed with endometriosis and placed on medication that adversely impacted her emotional well-being.
"I was prescribed hormonal medications to treat the symptoms I was experiencing from the suspected endometriosis. This led to side effects that worsened my depression and anxiety," Seaton shared with All Woman earlier in May, which is globally observed as Mental Health Awareness Month.
"This was a very difficult period not just for me, but also for my parents, who did not understand how to handle my compromised state of mind. These were conversations they were unfamiliar with," she continued. "During this time, I learnt just how much stigma is placed on discussing mental health in our society, and how the fear of being labelled as 'crazy' prevents many persons from speaking up or seeking help when they need it."
After her medical issue was resolved and she was taken off the hormonal medication, Seaton, who is pursuing a bachelors of arts degree in communication arts and technology at the University of Technology (UTech), Jamaica decided to launch MIND to continue the critical conversations she had started for herself, and to encourage others to speak up as well.
"I set out to recruit a dedicated team with a passion for advocacy and giving back, and together, through creative marketing strategies, we successfully launched the MIND campaign earlier this year," the founder shared.
In less than two months, the campaign has reached over 3000 people from across Jamaica, the United States, India and Canada. Her advocacy platform is primarily housed on social media platform, Instagram, where Seaton and her team host forums and post content to educate, encourage and equip their audience to better manage their mental health.
"We provide support to the MIND's community by providing assistance to those who need it by sharing resources," Seaton explained. "We've assembled a resourceful and passionate social network of people in different areas who care about mental health, and are working to connect them and their knowledge to those who reach out for support."
MIND has grown from an idea to a social community dedicated to creating space for people who suffer from mental health issues, and Seaton is brimming with optimism to see the changes and impact the platform is creating during mental health awareness month and beyond.
"While we work to raise awareness of the services and support available locally that can improve the quality of life for Jamaican children, teenagers, and adults with mental illness and addiction disorders, our aim is to foster emotional wellbeing for individuals and families in Jamaica," she said. "We want to remind everyone to care for their mind."