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A lift for mental health


A lift for mental health

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I WOULD LIKE to congratulate the leadership of the University of the West Indies (UWI) for establishing a Centre for Reparations Research.

As a member of Barbados’ Task Force on Reparations (TFoR), and chairman of the Non State Actors Reparations Commission Inc. (NsARC), I received correspondence on Emancipation Day of the UWI’s decision to launch the centre on October 10, 2017.

This is good news for the world.

October 10 is celebrated each year as World Mental Health Day, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilising efforts in support of mental health.

The day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.

From as far back as 1977 I have been challenging mental health abuses of people of African descent and today after 40 years I am still seeking justice for the violations of my human rights.

The Centre for Reparations Research will be leading the implementation of CARICOM’s Reparatory Justice Programme, which broadly seeks to foster public awareness around the lasting and adverse consequences of European invasion of indigenous peoples’ lands, African enslavement and colonialism in the Caribbean; and to offer practical solutions towards halting and reversing the legacies of such acts.

These objectives stem from an understanding that many of the injustices and adverse effects of native genocide, African enslavement and colonialism in the region did not end with formal emancipation and independence and still need to be addressed and repaired.

The greatest task facing people of African descent today is the repairing of our minds. Freeing our minds from mental slavery due to the psychological damage from the legacy of slavery and colonialism must therefore feature high on the research of the Centre for Reparations Research.

The NsARC is recommending that among the main objectives of the Centre for Reparations Research should be the linkages among October 12, 1492, which influenced the 1661 Slave Code Act of Barbados, that influenced all colonies of the former British Empire; the British Lunacy Act of 1844, and the 1959 Mental Health Act of Britain.

Research on the legacies of native genocide, enslavement and colonialism in the Caribbean and on how to bring justice and positive transformation to these legacies with a particular focus on CARICOM’s Reparatory Justice Programme must include how present-day mental health practices are disadvantaging people of African descent, in particular, the youth.

Freeing of our minds from mental slavery will now have a much-needed focus as we commemorate October 10, World Mental Health Day, with new understanding due to the Centre for Reparations Research.