Corona mash up yuh life, nuh true? It mess up some a di likkle plans dem you did already set out fi di year and maybe you’ve thought once or twice “wah mi fi do?”, am I right? … But, GOOD NEWS! Mental TLC is the campaign that’s just for you.

This campaign, developed by graphic designer, and founder of DTAW Productions, Dominique Walters and post-graduate educational studies student, Marianne McCallum, aims to target young adults within the generation groups: Millennials and Generation Z; in an effort to inform our youth on the different ways in which they can cope and have a positive outlook on life during this time.

Given the stigma surrounding mental health in the Jamaican society, as well as the fact that many young adults do not know how to deal with mental health issues, Mental TLC’s main message is to have our target group engage in positive coping mechanisms, to alleviate any negative or stressful emotions that may be felt due to the uncertainty created by the pandemic. This includes talking to someone, learning new skills, and caring for your body. In essence, TLC.

To gain more insight on the topic of mental health and the most suitable solutions to the problem area identified, Christina Silvera was the subject matter expert who was interviewed to provide professionally guided solutions that would be most appropriate to incorporate in this campaign.

Miss Silvera is an Associate Clinical Psychologist who holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of the West Indies. She has almost two years of experience in her field and has continued her education to become proficient in ADHD management and parent coaching. She is currently conducting psychological assessments and individual therapy at the office of Clinical Psychologists. Here is what Miss Silvera had to say.

Photo of Miss Christina Silvera – Associate Clinical Psychologist

What would you say are the most common mental health issues present in young adults?

Based on what I have seen in my experience with clients who are young adults, mostly anxiety and depression and I find that there is also a lot of self-medicating.

When you say self-medicating, what do you mean?

Alright well, not everybody has access to a psychologist or help in that way. So, most persons who feel that they don’t have the capacity to cope will find ways to make themselves feel better. So, it could mean marijuana use, alcohol abuse, sex, anything in excess … so, it’s whatever they have found that helps them to cope and feel a lot better with all of the negative feelings they are experiencing.

So … would you say that these are good coping mechanisms?

I wouldn’t say that but persons will do whatever they think will make them feel better.

Stay connected and take care of your mental by relaxing and unwinding – Photo contributed by Shutterstock

Okay understood. So, based on the problem area identified and the message behind the Mental TLC campaign, what do you believe would be the most appropriate solutions to incorporate?

Okay well, key coping mechanisms would be to make sure that you are trying to stay as much as possible, socially connected. This means that you must try to find a family member, friend, or anybody that you are comfortable with or can relate to, to talk to because social connectivity is important, especially right now. No man is an island. So, using the Skype, the Zoom or even video games are good ways to maintain connections. Even with doing a campaign like this … STATE THE OBVIOUS! Make persons know that they are not alone in the emotions they are feeling, like the loneliness, anxiety, and uncertainty. But at the same time, it’s necessary to lift persons’ spirits. Additionally, this is a time for persons to invest in themselves … what they can do to make themselves better; while at the same time not ignoring what they are feeling.

Solid advice. Alright so, when you say invest in themselves, what do you mean?

Well, this can be from learning new skills to basic self-care, just like what your campaign encourages. So, doing that free online course, getting into crochet, ensuring you’re maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, limiting news intake, whatever self-care technique works for you … all of these things are good coping mechanisms that can be used to reduce emotional stress. So, instead of focusing on what is going wrong, persons can shift their focus. Meaning, it can give persons a sort of hope, purpose, or drive to move forward with their life despite any negative situations that may have happened as a result of COVID.

Learn a new skill by taking a free online course – Photo contributed by U.S. News

Thank you for that response. Is there any parting advice that you would like to share?

Okay well, we all deserve to feel happy and feel purposeful. That being said, we all just have to find what works best for us.

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