EJA And Sweet Water Foundation Launch New Mental Health Programs In The OECS & Barbados

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The Equality and Justice Alliance (EJA) in conjunction with the Sweetwater Foundation based in Grenada, will be rolling out programs in the OECS countries and Barbados that will support every citizen, especially our women, girls and LGBT+ persons having the right to mental health services that could impact their overall wellbeing. Every citizen, regardless of age, gender, nationality, religion or sexual orientation deserves the right to have access to mental health services.

In some of our jurisdictions, persons with poor mental health are more susceptible to poverty and personal vulnerability; there are also issues of violence against vulnerable persons with mental health concerns and in some cases, no access for youth under 18.
Some of the programs rolled out will include, in Antigua – a public awareness campaign and
training for persons working in mental health. In Barbados, a video series entitled Mental Health Matters.

In St. Lucia, a workshop for mental health providers. In Dominica, a poster competition
for youth on “breaking mental health barriers” and a panel discussion on “dismantling the
stigma” Women, girls and members of the LGBT+ community are disproportionately affected when it comes to mental health services. Owing to stigma and discrimination which are prevalent, many are fearful of the repercussions of going for services. This, coupled with outdated laws, limited budgets for services and cultural factors, makes it a challenge.

One intended outcome of these outreach programs is amended legislation to ensure so that
inclusive access to mental health services for all citizens, including women, girls, LGBT+ and
other vulnerable people. Other outcomes include increased knowledge for the public through
educational and sensitizing campaigns to minimize negative stereotypes and highlight the
importance of mental health as a key component for holistic health and wellbeing.

Additionally, we aim to provide focused, consistent and systematic training for health care professionals using a culturally sensitive and human rights approach.

The Equality and Justice Alliance (EJA) is dedicated to creating better laws for better lives. The
organization partners with community-based groups and civil society agencies to create and
improve services by providing capacity building and financial support. For this project, the
Sweet Water Foundation will be leading the charge; this foundation was established in 2008 with offices in Grenada and Canada and focuses on help for children, the LGBT+ population and other vulnerable communities. They conduct research, develop policies and practice
recommendations, provide training and psychological treatment programs.

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