Ending Stigma Grenada

How Natalie Simon Best Is Pushing To End The Stigma Associated With Mental Illness in Grenada

My name is Natalie Simon Best; I attended the St Rose Modern Secondary School in Gouyave, St John’s. I recently moved back to Grenada to Give Back and created Ending Stigma Grenada.  I have a real passion for mental health and wanted to make that difference in my country Grenada.

I was born in London and came to live in Mt Granby, Grenada in 1988. My grandmother had adopted my sister and I while we were both toddlers. My mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was unable to look after her children, the family was divided, and that’s how I ended up on the island of Grenada.

I always knew I held a passion for mental health and wanted to challenge the stigma that exists around mental illness. This interest led me to peruse various courses, which included: MSc Addiction and Mental Health, PTLLS Teaching and Mental Health First Aid.

In June 2018, I left my job as a Trusts/Fundraising Officer, at one of the UK’s leading Mental Health Charities. Although I loved my position with SANE, I had a burning desire, and just knew I wanted to return home to give back and launch Ending Stigma Grenada.

It was commonplace that persons with a diagnosis of Schizophrenia were suggested to have split personalities and this type of individual would just attack someone for no reason.  In addition to the above, the perceptions from articles in the media at the time were extremely unhelpful.  Stigma was evident, even in the way that resources were allocated.

The ideas and planning for Ending Stigma Grenada started late 2017, I thought and thought, and then created the name, logo and email address for Ending Stigma Grenada. I remember ordering the business cards and T-Shirts, it seems like just yesterday. However, getting Ending Stigma Grenada off the ground has had its challenges, and I can recall my ex-workmates calling me crazy, leaping into the unknown.

I was extremely determined, made some useful contacts in Grenada and did my research. There was no similar Mental Health Awareness Workshops taking place in Grenada. It was hard work, and I can recall spending many sleepless nights creating the PowerPoint Presentations for the Ending Stigma Grenada – Mental Health Awareness Workshops.

On arrival in Grenada, I made contact with the Ministry of Health to discuss Ending Stigma Grenada Project and things were slow in getting started. However, I wanted to keep busy and arranged to volunteer at my local Soup Kitchen in Gouyave. After volunteering for a few weeks, I asked if Ending Stigma Grenada Workshop could be piloted at the Catholic Church Conference Room, to my amazement they said yes, and supported me entirely.

The ENDING STIGMA GRENADA – Mental Health Awareness Workshops have been created to contribute to greater mental health awareness and have received striking amounts of positive feedback. The recent Wellbeing and Resilience Workshop reveals that learners felt more equipped,  to understand what stress is, recognize the symptoms of stress,  identify stressors’, learn various methods and coping techniques, be aware of how healthy living will contribute to overall wellbeing.

A few quotes from the participants:

‘The fact that we were able to speak out and share our feelings’

‘It helped to make me feel much better, due to my condition.’

‘The tools are given for coping with stigma and stress.’

‘Living in the presence makes a difference.’

The stigma related to mental ill-health is widespread, not just here in Grenada, but in many parts of the globe. Let us NOT choose to turn a blind eye, be prompt and make change happen so that people can get the relevant support, intervention, and treatment required.

‘We are people too’ (not liabilities), please stand with me to help prioritize mental health; for it to receive the RIGHT attention required.  Speak up, suicide rates are rising across the globe and at least every 40 seconds someone COMPLETES suicide/dies by suicide.

Policy makers, employers supporting employee’s wellbeing, health care workers, and the community, we all have our part to play. LET US come together, to find lasting solutions and develop a strong commitment to raising the profile of mental health in Grenada. Mental Health must be top of the agenda with more resources, information and mental health awareness education programmes.

Ending Stigma Grenada offers various training:

  1. Challenging Stigma
  2. Common Mental Health Issues
  3. Wellbeing and Resilience
  4. Stress Management
  5. Self-Harm Awareness
  6. Suicide Awareness

ENDING STIGMA GRENADA plans to offer more mental health awareness workshops throughout Grenada, Carriacou, and Petie Martinique. The vision is to develop a cohort of ENDING STIGMA GRENADA Champions – persons with experience of mental ill-health that could go on to feel empowered by promoting wellbeing and offer support in their communities, be it through holding activities or challenging stigma.   By December 2019, Ending Stigma Grenada aims to have over 1000 persons trained in mental health awareness.


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