Photo contributed by Google. Whether minor or significant, trauma changes the brain and can have several lasting negative effects.

Jamaica, just like any other country has numerous individuals who encounter some sort of trauma daily.  While females might reach out and seek help, whether it be therapy or just speaking to a friend about a traumatic situation they encounter, it is rare that a male will do the same. Men are taught to conceal their feelings, which some men who are faced with adversity tuck neatly away in Pandora’s box, hoping that the pain they hide will never seep into any of its four corners. Any of us would accept that this conventional domineering macho conduct does not always comply with our men’s best interests. What happens if the box finally explodes? For this very reason four women from different backgrounds came together and created (His)Tory: Normalize Therapy for Young Men communication campaign. KayAnn Ford, an administrative assistant who is passionate about mental health; Abigail Gordon, an online English tutor; Kriss-Ann Haughton, a recent graduate of The University of Technology, Jamaica, who is also a mental health enthusiast and Sashoi Nichols, a current student at The University of The West Indies started this campaign in March 2021.

Can you imagine the struggle males, especially between the ages of  18 to 25 years, who grew up in single-parent households are going through after experiencing trauma? And because they are taught by society that they should be “macho” they are afraid of seeking help or even talking to friends because they do not want to be laughed at. Most individuals go through trauma on a daily, but most of us have no idea of what trauma is, so we think it is normal. Did you know being abandoned by a parent is an example of trauma?

To better understand what trauma is, the effects it may have on young males and how to tackle this issue, I spoke with Jhanille Brooks. Jhanille holds a master’s degree in rehabilitation and mental health counseling from the University of South Florida. With over 8 years of experience in project management of social outreach and development projects, she has managed projects for both national and international donor organizations.

Firstly, what is trauma?

Jhanille stated that trauma is any experience or perceived threat to life, safety and the environment.

Did you know there are several types of trauma?

Also, trauma is left up to the perception of the individual.

Person A, being raised by a single parent who taught him how to be strong. He might look at his parent as his hero for taking on the role of both mother and father and making ends meet when things got hard. While person B, might not be so positive and have anger issues or develops abandonment issues or have issues staying in a relationship, or have a fear of rejection.

 

Jhanille Brooks, Psychologist, and Director of Jamaica Mental Health Advocacy Network.

Jhanille also provided several recommendations for dealing with trauma and the side effects.

  1. Speak to someone. Your support system can decide whether the trauma you experienced will manifest into something greater or you will recover. Social support is one of the best ways to deal with trauma. Having a friend to speak with can be a good thing.
  2. Resilience also plays a factor in how someone copes with the stress that comes with trauma. Most people will show resilience and bounce back after a traumatic event. However, for some individuals, the road to recovery can be challenging. This is where support comes back in, whether it be a family member or friend. Sometimes just having someone to speak with about a traumatic event can help and will make the road to recovery much easier.
  3. If the trauma manifests into mental issues such as substance use, low self-esteem issues or PTSD, seek professional help. It does not have to be a psychologist. A counselor will do.

It is easy to tell someone dealing with trauma to seek help. But as mentioned before society taught men to portray this macho ego. So why would they reach out to a friend, family member, or even a professional? To this Jhanille stated that Jamaicans are becoming more accepting of therapy and seeking professional help especially throughout this pandemic.

Photo contributed by Google. Speak to someone. Take the step to recovery.

If you have experienced trauma, you are not alone, and nothing is wrong with seeking help. Be brave, take a step, reach out to a friend, a family member, anyone. Just reach out. One of the first steps to recovery is reaching out.

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