When was the last time you checked up on your mental health?
In Barbados, we have all been affected and have had to adjust our work, home, school and everyday life due to the pandemic. It is important we pay attention to our mental health and also stay in tune with the ones we love. If you break a bone or suffer from hypertension you wouldn’t hesitate to go to the doctor. We need to look at our mental wellbeing in the same way.
In the past, talking to friends, family and even our doctors about how we’re feeling mentally and emotionally hasn’t really been a priority. We’re proud people and known for our strength and resilience. Many of us might be nervous to even broach the topic. Over the last two years, we’ve seen many friends and neighbours suffering with anxiety over how to pay for food or rent, and even depression as our social circles have been split apart between social distancing, curfews and more.
While it might seem difficult to reach out for help, once you’ve made that first phone call or started a conversation with a trusted friend, family member or doctor things will get easier. Please remember that all licensed psychiatrists and psychologists are required to keep your mental health information safe and secure so be sure to reach out if you are in need of assistance. Their professional ethics require them to keep all of your information confidential – the same as any other medical record.
GETTING MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT IN BARBADOS
We’ve compiled some resources to support you as you evaluate your own mental health and contemplate how you can support those around you.
SIGNS TO LOOK FOR
We all experience times of stress or periods where there is a lot going on in our lives. It is helpful to check in with yourself and evaluate whether you have experienced any of the following symptoms. If the symptoms persist (or you experience severe symptoms), it’s a good time to talk to your doctor.
- Feeling sad or down
- Reduced ability to concentrate on work or school or confused thinking
- Mood Swings – extreme mood changes of highs and lows
- Inability to cope with daily problems or stress
- Sex drive changes
- Withdrawal from friends and activities
- Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
- Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
- Major changes in eating habits
- Chronic headaches and stomach aches
- Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations
- Problems with alcohol or drug use
- Heart racing and sweaty palms
- Excessive anger, hostility or violence
- Suicidal thinking
WHERE TO GET HELP:
Before we discuss the specifics of what to do in non-emergency or emergency situations .we would like to bring your attention to the first step of finding mental health support in Barbados. Both for yourself and others, you should call the Assessment Unit at the Psychiatric Hospital. This Assessment Unit is the central hub for mental health situations and they will connect you to the help you need or arrange to dispatch units for emergencies.
Direct Line to Assessment Unit: (246) 536-3091
What to do in non-emergency mental health situations in Barbados:
Finding a therapist in Barbados:
- Check the Barbados Society of Psychology Directory
- Select one that provides the service that fits your situation
- Contact them through phone or email
- Explain your situation and detail your preferences for help
- Whoever you contact should be able to assist or connect you to someone who can
The Barbados Society of Psychology has collected a list of members who are verified as Registered Psychologists with the Paramedical Professions Council.
This list contains their name, email, phone number and the areas in which they specialize in.
If you are having difficulty contacting any of the members, feel free to email the Association (email@example.com) and they will help find the right match for your situation.
What to do in Emergency Mental Health Situations:
- Contact the Assessment Unit at the Psychiatric Hospital.
- Explain your situation as best as you can.
- Follow instructions provided by the hotline.
For emergency mental health situations, it is strongly recommended you contact the Assessment Unit as they are readily equipped to handle emergency situations. Private institutions also recommend emergency situations to the Psychiatric Hospital.
The hospital has the ability to send out units to your location for assistance, provide advice over the phone and also admit individuals in for treatment, so they are your best bet to get the help you need.
The Psychiatric Hospital has a free Assessment Unit to help in emergency situations, provide mental health services or connect you to the psychologist or psychiatrist you need.
There are also several Non-Governmental Organizations that help their specific groups with mental health situations. Here’s a list of groups that provide mental health services to their members. If you would like your group or service added to this list, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- An organization dedicated to the LGBTQ community
- They provide therapy for their members
- They also provide therapy for HIV+ individuals
- Business & Professional Women’s Club of Barbados
- BPW Barbados is focused on elevating the status of women in Barbados and the Caribbean
- Crisis Centre
- Free therapy for victims of abuse
- @Letsunpackitco on Instagram
- Youth inspired page
- Encouraging and informative posts and sharing stories to help demystify and correct misconceptions about Mental Health.