Vincentian group to host mental health panel discussion

Sherrill-Ann Mason-Haywood.
Photo by Nelson A. King

The Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) Diaspora Committee of NY, Inc. will host, for the very first time, a mental health and wellness panel discussion on Saturday, April 6, at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center in Brooklyn.

According to the group’s chairperson, Sherrill-Ann Mason-Haywood, the event, entitled “Mental Health is Everyone’s Business,” is the first that the organization will host, as part of its “new strategic focus on health and wellness for the period 2019 – 2021.”

Educator Mason-Haywood said the event — which begins at 3:00 pm, at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center’s 813 Sterling Place location — “targets families, especially parents and teenagers.”

She said the “interactive panel discussion” will feature expert panelists Cruz Fuksman, licensed master social worker (LMSW); Danielle Fairbairn-Bland, licensed clinical social worker (LCSW); Nicole Slater, licensed mental health counselor (LMHC); and Dr. Vanessa Bobb.

Mason-Haywood said the discussion will be moderated by veteran Vincentian-born media personality Theresa Daniel.

“Issues related to Mental Health are still very misunderstood and considered taboo in many circles in the Caribbean community, including St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Diaspora,” Mason-Haywood said.

She said panelists will address: The nature of psychiatric illness and other mental health challenges; tools to address mental health problems; the impact of mental illness on families and the community; strategies for reducing the stigma of mental illness; and a roadmap for recovery and wellness.

Mason-Haywood said mental health resource material will be provided at the event by NYC’s Mental Health Initiative, Thrive NYC, which provides mental health first aid training for New York city residents.

“As a next step to follow up the panel discussion, SVG Diaspora Committee of New York will partner with Thrive NYC to offer the mental health first aid training to interested persons in the Vincentian and Caribbean Diaspora in NYC,” Mason-Haywood said.

She said the event will be simultaneously streamed live via the committee’s Facebook page (tinyurl.com/SVGDNYC) “to primarily facilitate participation of mental health and social work professionals in SVG and the Caribbean in general.”

Mason-Haywood said the SVG Diaspora Committee of New York Inc., which was founded in 2010, is a registered IRS 501 c3 non-profit organization, operating in New York City, “with a main focus on community improvement and capacity building.”

Its motto is “As One People in Many Lands, We Shape our Nation with Many Hands,” she said.

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