Hope for the mentally illThursday, October 29, 2020
BY ROSALEE WOOD
MONTEGO BAY, St James - Individuals in St James grappling with mental health issues could soon start receiving assistance from the Lakin Elizabeth Whispers of Hope Foundation.
According to the foundation's founder, Lakin Elizabeth Wynter, under the initiative scores of mental health patients in the parish will benefit from a slew of social integration programmes and care packages.
The foundation was created out of the need to provide support to patients on psychiatric wards at hospitals in St James, whose family members don't visit them.
“As someone who suffered from a mental illness and has been in and out of the hospital, I know what it is like to be deserted by family and to feel like a beggar because you do not have the basic amenities required for living. No soap, tissue and other items. It was help that pulled me up and I want to help others to rise above their situation,” Wynter told the Jamaica Observer West.
“In many cases it is not the mental illness that pushes many to commit suicide, it is being deserted which causes one to feel unworthy. We want to prevent that end result with our social integration programmes.”
Currently funded by the founder's institutions— STEP Academy and the ACE Institute located in St James— the foundation will be launching an ongoing fund-raiser that will see persons focusing on giving for their birthdays as opposed to receiving.
“I am turning 35 on February 21, 2021 and I am asking corporate companies and individuals to donate US$35 to the Lakin Elizabeth Whispers of Hope Foundation. Birthdays have become very commercial. You get wallets, tablets, flat screen televisions and you even get a bunch of stuff you don't even want or need. So instead of asking for gifts or parties, you can turn your birthday into a giving moment. Instead of asking for gifts, ask your family members and/or friends to donate your age in US dollars,” Wynter urged.
In addition to providing the basic amenities for the mentally ill patients on ward, the foundation also plans to implement motivational programmes aimed at reforming those diagnosed with a mental illness.
“We want to teach them how to get back out there in a positive way,” Wynter stressed.
“Because of the experience many have had with their families turning their backs on them, many have lost their self-esteem. We want them to know that they don't need to feel that way, and that they can rise above their situation.”
Wynter was diagnosed with a mental illness in 2010, which left her homeless.
“I was sleeping on the streets, naked and eating from garbage bins. My family and friends turned their backs on me, because no one wanted to be associated with a mad woman,” she shared.
“One day I decided that I need to pull myself up. I started reciting positive things each day. I started showering at police stations and churches that allowed me, and changed my image. Then, I met this lady who allowed me to stay at her home. I joined her church and soon after I found a place to rent. The church paid my rent for a while until I managed to kick off my marketing business. Many of my clients were from within the church. In 2014, I was able to recover. I understood the power of the mind and how to use it as a tool. This is what I want to teach others who are suffering like how I was.”
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