From since high school, at the age of 16-years old, Shinelle Bayrd, a young girl living in Guyana had to face the challenges of mental health. As she grew older, she realized that she was not alone in this struggle but rather according to the World Health Organization in 2014, Guyana had the highest rate of suicide in the world at 44.2 per 100,000 people and that between 75,000 to 112,500 Guyanese suffer with some form of mental health disorder that requires mental health services.
Shinelle admits that in her country, newspaper headlines show every day that a great percentage of the population is affected by mental health. As a patient of such trauma and having seen and faced the problem intimately, she along with her Rotaract Club of Georgetown Central, Guyana, decided to do something about it by creating a project to address the mental health challenges affecting the people of Guyana.
One of the main challenges in Guyana to address is the lack of mental health resources; the services are inadequate and not accessible to the vast majority of the population. The system is so poorly resourced with an example of only three (3) certified psychologists serving the population at the Georgetown Public Hospital’s Psychiatric Ward in the capital city. As a result, the aim of the Wellness Center is to raise awareness and provide support for persons dealing with mental health illnesses and to promote the improvement of the overall physical, mental, spiritual and emotional well-being of persons.
Shinelle explained that she will attempt to achieve this by utilizing a three-tiered approach; self-help techniques and mental health tool kits, support groups and counselling sessions and a counselor training programme. Through further explanation, self-help techniques will include:
- An online platform that will provide tips and techniques for dealing with stress, depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders
- Yoga and meditation tutorials along with other relaxation techniques
- Online quizzes will be available to assess a person’s mental health and detect disorders
The support group system will be both online and face to face peer counselling to allow individuals to connect with persons facing similar challenges.
Lastly, the training programme will be short courses offered by experts in different areas to build the human capacity and knowledge systems in the country to deal with mental health issues.
The dream of a Wellness Centre will become a reality in 2019, as Shinelle was the winner of the Social Impact Ideation grant valued at 6,000 euros by Youth Time International Movement at the recently concluded Youth Global Forum under the theme, “Worldwide Impact Investing: The Role of Entrepreneurs” held in Paris, France from 2nd -6th December, 2018. The grant covers approximately 70% of the project cost and Shinelle will continue to work with her, mainly the Rotaract Club of Georgetown whilst there is a possibility for new partnership with the Ministry of Health, Guyana and other corporate sponsors to ensure this project is sustained and would transform the lives of a nation.
Shinelle said, “definitely a project like this will reduce mental health and suicide rates in my country and its impact will be two-fold in terms of one, helping to fix the problem and two building a resilient population who is able to work and be productive for Guyana’s economy.”
She further explained, “I was selected the winner of the business project competition and as such secured a grant to fund my idea in the often neglected area of mental illness. I am humbled and thankful for this amazing opportunity and I cannot wait to turn my idea into reality and create the impact that I’ve always dreamt of creating in my country…so to the young people, be the change you want to see in this world!