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Workshops & Outreaches:

   As part of our ZERO SUICIDE approach to creating Suicide Safe Communities across Guyana, The Caribbean Voice will continue to refine and offer our training program that comprises the five workshops:

Additionally we will continue to build institutional capacity to ensure that all members of The Caribbean Voice are au fait with all the deliverables and become capable of offering all five workshops. This would ensure that regional committees would be capable of conducting training via our workshops in their respective regions. We also plan to offer similar training to other stakeholders that would be desirous of receiving such training. As well, TCV expects to capitalize on scholarship offers from various sources to get additional training for our members.

   Furthermore, TCV plans to explore the possibility of information dissemination and minimal training for parents via Parent Teachers Associations. We have proposed this as a collaborative effort with the Guyana Teachers Union and we hope to meet with the Ministry of Education to formalize this as a way to get parents more prepared to be able to help their children handle stress, challenges, suicide ideation and abuse.

Additionally, TCV plans to work with the umbrella religious organizations to provide some clinical training for their pandits, priests, moulvis and imams so they can be better prepared and be more active is counseling and outreach. Towards this end also we are in discussions with Mental Health Program at Columbia University to explore collaboration.

 

Training Curriculum:

➢ Suicide: overview/facts, warning signs, safe use and storage of pesticides, ladder of interventions – community elders and leaders, priests, gatekeeper intervention, the suicide helpline, counseling.

➢ Drugs & Alcohol: overview/facts, symptoms/effects, ladder of interventions – community elders and leaders, priests, gatekeeper intervention, counseling.

➢ Gender Based Violence: overview/facts, symptoms/effects, ladder of interventions – community elders and leaders, priests, gatekeeper intervention, legal options, counseling.

➢ Child Abuse: overview/facts, symptoms/effects, ladder of interventions – community elders and leaders, priests, gatekeeper intervention, legal options, counseling.

 

➢ Sexual Abuse: overview/facts, symptoms/effects, ladder of interventions – community elders and leaders, priests, gatekeeper intervention, legal options, counseling - petitions for the registry of sex offenders and raising the age of consent to 18…

➢ Dysfunctional Relationships: do’s and don’t’s, dysfunctional warning signs, emphatic communication, ladder of interventions – community elders and leaders, priests, counseling.

➢ Elderly Abuse: overview, effects, ladder of interventions – community elders and leaders, priests, gatekeeper intervention, legal options, counseling.

➢ Mental Health: connection to suicide and abuse, depression, anxiety, counseling taboos, mental health stigmas., treatment modalities and accessing help.

➢ Self Care: self-esteem and our self esteem pledge; the range of self care strategies such as music, meditation, art, reading, hobbies and exercise, among others; self-acceptance and self –forgiveness; coping skills and managing stress; safe use of the Internet; dealing with bullying; addressing self harm; mindfulness; power of positive thinking and peer interventions.

➢ Community support: gatekeepers training to identify suicide and abuse warning signs, engage in emphatic communication and seek help via the ladder of intervention.

This curriculum is interactive and uses the facilitative delivery method that includes ice breakers; diagnostic and self knowledge questionnaires; use of fact sheets, posters and other ancillary materials; role play, simulations and games; Q&A; case studies and anecdotes; use of enabling technology such as power point slides, videos, virtual charts and graphs; the KISS approach; the Sandwich Technique9; group work; feedback and other checks for understanding. As well, we do include a session on The Caribbean Voice that includes background, mission, the five pillars of activism, structure, membership, partnering, collaboration, contacting TCV.

 

Counseling Interventions:

At the heart of everything we do, of course, is counseling interventions. We will continue to answer every call and respond to every request for help, whether it relates to suicide mindsets or any form of abuse – sexual, physical, emotional, substance or otherwise. That we have been able to call on members of our technical team in this respect is indeed a blessing, but also because of our increasing reach and earned respect, we are also able to call upon specialists from outside of TCV, with a great deal of success.

Our technical team comprises clinical counselors, psychologists, a social worker and a certified addiction counselor and behavioral change coach. In total there are seven members of the team - two in Guyana, three in the US, one in the UK and one in Canada. Generally, they are available 24/7 and offer highly professional and confidential counseling. To date they have counseled close to 300 persons, mostly from Guyana but also from 15 other nations around the world.

In addition to counseling cases referred to us or that come directly to us, we also often reach out to individuals through social media, once we observe warning signs and/or suicide ideation language. Such cases not only relate to suicide attempts or suicide ideation, but depression, anxiety and abuse – sexual, child, alcohol, gender based and drugs. As well, this year we started counseling families of suicide victims and we plan to expand on this over the next five years. Additionally we will develop the capacity to provide counseling services to tackle alcohol and drug use and abuse.

To foster our counseling program we will be exploring the launch of a 24/7 counseling helpline. A helpline is needed in spite of the one established by the government, because this latter seems neither trusted nor widely used by the population. The result is that too many people still struggle to find avenues for help and many resort to facebook where they are advised by people who lack the skills and expertise to do so and/or they become resistant to offers of counseling from ‘strangers’ like TCV. Also the lack of trust in the government helpline, combined with a lack of trust for counseling in general, a certain laissez faire attitude by some counselors as well as a misconception that ‘only mad people need counseling’ leave far too many vulnerable people at risk of ending up dying by suicide. And a sort of benign tolerance of people with mental illnesses plus a lack of understanding about mental illnesses in general mean that need to seek counseling for them is seen as unnecessary, much less critical.

 

Information Dissemination & Awareness Building:

From the inception of our campaign, combating widely believed and propagated myths and misinformation has been a significant component of our information dissemination and awareness building efforts. We plan to aggressively continue to engage in this, using all the avenues available especially traditional and social media, including TV and radio programs produced/hosted by TCV members. And we plan to hold discussions with the state owned National Communications Network (NCN) and other broadcast media to explore possibilities of being able to produce and host monthly programs focusing on information dissemination and awareness building. As well we will continue to build our social media ((twitter, facebook, linkedin, youtube, wordpress blog, instagram, pinterest, tumblr, google) following as we harness this platform to disseminate information and build awareness. And we plan to redesign our website (www.caribvoice.org) to make it more interactive and to enable user interaction and feedback as well as to foster usage and needs referrals.

Awareness and information dissemination will also be fostered through the launch of our monthly e-magazine either in 2017 or 2018. This publication will be fully interactive and will include embedded videos. It will focus on the social landscape throughout the Caribbean. And we will explore the possibility of a monthly insert in one of the local newspaper and/or a periodic print magazine.

We will also continue to engage in research in order to craft letters and articles and continue to get them regularly published in the print media, and continue to aggressively pursue interview opportunities via the broadcast media. Also, TCV will formalize weekly columns offered by two local Guyana newspapers and explore similar avenues elsewhere.

Thus far, we have commissioned two surveys on various aspects of suicide, abuse and mental health on the whole. These surveys provided significant primary information that was used to build awareness and drive our activism. We will continue to commission such surveys as the need arises, so that we can garner accurate and updated information that can then be disseminated to the public as well as used to drive our own campaign. The next survey will determine the extent to which Guyanese use the Internet and social media to address suicide and abuse.

Also we are reaching out to or already have reached out to other sectors of society and other stakeholders – businesses (to include awareness in their outdoor and other advertising), government agencies, sports, cultural and religious entities and so on. We plan to continue to do so as we engage in activism across Guyana.

 

Advocacy And Lobbying:

With respect to advocacy and lobbying The Caribbean Voice’s plans are as follow:

  1. Work to have all Guyanese media carry public service ads as often as they can on an ongoing basis. This idea has already been mooted in our letters and we will be approaching media on an individual basis to follow up. At this point such messages are being carried by TCV members who have their own TV and radio programs:
  2. Explore the possibility of sports being used as vehicle to educate and inform and to highlight messages - anti-suicide, anti-abuse (sexual, gender based, child, alcohol and drugs) and anti- teenage pregnancy. This can be done through sports stars becoming spokespersons on the various causes, through messages constantly shared via the public address systems at sporting events, banners being displayed, flyering and postering being done. Towards this end we hope to set up meetings with the Sports Minister, and various sports organizations.
  3. Also, we noted that students at Black Bush Polder, New Amsterdam and Anna Regina came out on the streets to focus on suicide over the last few years ago. It would be great if the Ministry of Education can declare one day a year ‘Social Activism Day’ whereby all students nationally come out in marches and rallies to be addressed by informed personnel on suicide, domestic abuse, teenage pregnancy and related issues. Parents and the school communities can be invited to participate as well to collaborate with schools to plan other related activities. We have proposed this as a collaborative effort with the Guyana Teachers Union and we hope to discuss this with the Ministry of Education.
  4. Use music as a form advocacy. A number of suicide prevention songs as well as one or two songs on related issues have been released over the last three years. Most of these songs are on our youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/ab10460/feed?view_as=public) and we plan to popularize them as well encourage artistes to produce and release more songs. We will also be putting together a CD of these songs for mass distributio
  5.  Explore how drama can be used in advocacy.  One of our partners, Nirvana Foundation, staged a play focusing on suicide in Guyana and New York City a couple of years ago. Now TCV is in the process of drafting a similar play also to be staged in Guyana and the Diaspora.  Other avenues will also be explored, especially grass roots theatre.
  6. Launch an annual youth and student competition (essay, art, poetry, debate and then music) for all schools in Guyana at both the primary and secondary levels. The Guyana Teachers’ Union has agreed to partner with us on this and an official agreement should be in place later this year or next year. This is also another item on our agenda for our anticipated meeting with Ministry of Education. Initial endorsement by the Ministry has already been given at a prior meeting with Ministry officials.
  7. Continue to lobby the Ministry of Education to include at least one counselor in each school in Guyana. The Ministry has already indicated plans to do so but start time to roll out this initiative has continually been pushed back. We have proposed that the University of Guyana reintroduce the one year Diploma in Counseling, offered on Saturdays for in service teachers and as a full time program for retired teachers who can then be placed in schools across Guyana.
  8. Continue to lobby for placement of clinical psychologists at every public hospital with planned visits to community health care institutions within the catchment area of each hospital. We have also suggested that school counselors can schedule a couple of hours each day to serve the communities and parent bodies, possibly working in collaboration with Parent Teachers Associations.
  9. Continue to lobby for piggybacking on all training provided by various ministries and other government agencies, through a collaborative approach that would ensure that modules on mental health added to training programs.
  10. Continue to lobby for extensive and continual publicizing of the Suicide Helpline and formalizing the inclusion of other mental issues, especially sexual assault, domestic and child abuse, alcoholism and drug use as well as ensuring that those who answer the calls are trained in empathetic communication and that callers have access not only to priests but pandits and moulvis/imams. We suggest a program to train all priests, pandits and moulvis/imans in collaboration with various faith based umbrella organizations such as the Dharmic Sabbha, Central Islamic Organization of Guyana, Seven Days Adventist Church and so on.
  11. Continue to foster self-esteem. In fact we launched a self-esteem pledge at our February 2016 press conference. The first two signatories were TCV spokesperson, media and entertainment personality, WR Reaz and Miss World Guyana 2016, Lisa Punch. Media and other attendees also signed on. This pledge has already been taken to a number of schools and communities in the course of our various workshops and outreaches and networking events attended by TCV. In addition to committing signatories to focusing their own self esteem, the pledge publicizes the contact information for the Suicide Helpline set up by the Guyana Police Force in 2015.
  12. Continue to lobby for mental health training to be added to the curriculum at the Teachers’ Training College and University of Guyana (UG). Also that UG be tasked with engaging in primary research and crafting of redressive mechanisms for mental health care.
  13. Continue to lobby for Government’s support for and utilization of centers set up by individuals and NGOs such as the counseling center at Corriverton established by ex-magistrate, Krishnadat Persaud, the center at Port Mourant built and run by Pandit Sugrim and NJASM, or the center at Metem Meer Zorg, built and managed by Nirvana Humanitarian Foundation.
  14. Continue to lobby for the establishment of a registry of sexual offenders. TCV, in 2015, launched an online petition calling on the government to establish a registry of sex offenders, in recognition of the fact that sexual abuse drives suicide.  This petition can be accessed (http://www.caribvoice.org/petitions.html).
  15. Continue to lobby for raising the age of consent to 18 years. In 2016 we launched a second online petition, this time calling on the government to raise the age of consent to 18 years, in order to protect the young from sexual predators, as they are most susceptible to suicide once they face challenges. This petition too can be accessed at http://www.caribvoice.org/petitions.html.
  16. Continue to lobby for a return of the Gatekeepers’ Program, so that every community will have proactive first responders to provide initial intervention with respect to suicide, various forms of abuse and other mental health issues.
  17. Continue to lobby for a national stakeholders conference to build collaboration and establish a national coordinating committee.
  18. Continue to lobby for an integrated approach to health care as advocated by the World Health Organization – integrating mental health care into the current physical health care system so that mental health care is easily and widely accessible.
  19. Continue to lobby for the decriminalizing attempted suicide. A bill to this effect was voted against by the government last year, and so we are requesting a bipartisan parliamentary committee to be set up to deal with any stumbling blocks and reintroduce the bill for debate and endorsement by all parliamentarians.
  20. Continue to lobby for establishing a social support network for victims of abuse so that economic dependency and concerns about their children do not prevent abused partners from refusing to give witness in court cases or from leaving abusive relationship.
  21. Continue to lobby for a mechanism to support suicide survivors. This mechanism must include counseling services, sensitization with respect to strategies to address stress, challenges and relationship dysfunction along with building self-esteem and provision of coping skills.
  22. Continue to lobby for the total implementation of the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plans across Guyana rather than in an ad hoc, piecemeal manner.

 

Building Stakeholders’ Collaboration for Social Activism:

From the very inception, recognizing that ‘suicide prevention is everybody’s business’, we have been reaching out to build partnerships and engage in collaboration10. Towards this end, we held the first and only National Stakeholders’ Conference on Suicide and Related Issues in, August 2015, in collaboration with Cara Hotel, Save Abee Foundation and New York City based business, Office Resources Inc. It was attended by over 75 stakeholders, as well as two government ministers, one embassy, a number of activists and a lot of media.  The conference gave a great fillip to our awareness campaign, significantly brought the media on board the suicide prevention campaign and provided scope for NGOs and other stakeholders to not only be aware of our mission, but also of our desire to cooperate and collaborate. As we continue this process of building stakeholders’ collaboration we plan to:

  1. IContinue with the Annual National Anti-Violence Candlelight Vigil. In 2016 we launched Voices Against Violence, a collaboration of about 40 NGOs, FBOs and Community Based Organizations (CBOs), which has a planned, annual calendar, focusing on a different issue each month. This collaborative was launched in September 2016 with 300 plus candlelight vigils throughout Guyana to mark World Suicide Prevention Day and that figure is expected to increase each subsequent year.
  2. IReach out to all entities currently engaged in suicide and related issues activism, in and out of Guyana, and tie them into a national network so as to be able to map what is available and where it is available and then work to fill the gaps.  Towards this end we will build a database of all stakeholders on the social landscape.
  3. Seek to have all medical outreaches include mental health components. Already we have collaborated with entities such as such as Save Abee Foundation, the Pandits’ Council, the People’s Progressive Party and Prashad’s Pharmacy to effect this.
  4. Continue to include other stakeholders in our periodic press conferences. Thus far we have held four press conferences – September 2014, February 2016, March 2017 and April 2017 – which have helped to cement our relationships with the media and many NGO partners as well as to keep awareness on the front burner.
  5. Meanwhile, given that not much can be done without government input at some level, we reached out to many ministers in the previous government as well as this current government and have had meetings with a few of them. We plan to continue to do so.
  6. Also we have reached out to a number of embassies and international organizations for the express purpose of collaboration. A number of meetings have been held with the US Embassy and the Indian Consulate. We have also been in touch with Food for the Poor and plan to reach out to other international entities such as USAID, UNESCO, WHO, PAHO and so on. As well we have participated in training and other fora organized by the US Embassy, WHO/PAHO, the University of Guyana and a few other entities.
  7. Furthermore, stakeholder collaboration has also been an outcome of the El Dorado Awards (http://www.caribvoice.org/el-dorado-awards.html), which was quite successfully launched in August 2015 during the visit of the Diaspora team to Guyana. The awards was launched to:
    1. Build connections between the business and professional community on the one hand and activists and advocates on the social landscape on the other hand with the hope that ongoing partnerships can be established to harness social responsibility and enhance social activism.
    2. Help foster unity across various existing divides and emphasize the concept of Guyanese first and foremost.
    3. Recognize and honor those who give of their time and efforts and go beyond the scope of their jobs and professions to lend a helping hand and/or work to make society better.

   Fully funded by corporate sponsorship in Guyana and the US, the awards, which are alcohol free, in keeping with our anti-alcohol platform, was well received and a decision was taken to make it an annual event. For us the most memorable outcome of awards one and two have been the fact that attendees indicated that they were not aware that so many were active on the social landscape, giving back and helping to make a difference.

   Letters were written to the media commending the event and suggesting potential honorees, and there has since been a fierce response with respect to nominees, as many now see this event as not only unique but the only one that nationally recognizes the efforts of others to empower and uplift.

 

Timeline of Expectations:

Annually:

• The Annually El Dorado Awards.

• The Annual National Anti-Violence Candlelight Vigil to mark World Suicide Prevention Day – September 10th each year.

Ongoing:

• Counseling interventions.

• All five workshops in all ten regions.

• Training other stakeholders to add to the reservoir of trained activists.

• Goal  - getting all medical outreaches to include mental health components in their programs.

• Training of Gatekeepers in every community throughout Guyana.

• Research and information dissemination through all available channels.

• Press conferences and surveys as necessary/possible.

• Goal  - businesses to include suicide prevention and anti-abuse messages in their advertisements.

• Building institutional capacity.

• Reach out to media11 to carry public service messages.

• Lobby government for:

2017:

• Launch an e-magazine.

• Formalize the offer of a weekly, one-hour TV program in Guyana.

2017 to 2018:

• Organize a National Youth and Student Essay Contest focusing on suicide and prevention.

• Build a national structure comprising sub groups in all ten administrative regions.

2018:

• Goal  - establish a registry of sexual offenders.

• Goal  - self esteem, coping skills, safe use of the Internet and related issues included in the Family Life and Health

  Curriculum in schools.

• An electronic billboard at the Cheddi Jagan Airport displaying suicide prevention and anti-abuse messages.

• Goal  - decriminalization of attempted suicide.

• Redesign our website to make it more interactive.

• Finalize an agreement with Seva International (India) for a specialist to spend a year in Guyana to develop a community

  -based approach to mental health.

• Launch a CD with suicide prevention and anti-abuse songs by Guyanese artistes.

• Launch a play focusing on suicide prevention and anti-abuse.

• Goal  - a mechanism to offer clinical training to priests, pandits and moulvis/imams.

• Goal - a mechanism for training to be provided for parents through PTAs.

• Goal - persuade phone companies regularly send out to their cell phone customers, suicide prevention and anti-abuse

  messages as well as tips to help suicidal and abused persons.

• Commission a survey on the use of Internet and social media in relation to social issues.

2018 to 2019:

• Stage the play focusing on suicide prevention and anti-abuse in communities across Guyana.

• Organize a National Youth and Student Debate Contest focusing on suicide and prevention.

• Set up collaborative home visit committees in every region to visit families of suicide and abused victims. The first committee has already been established in region two in collaboration with Regional Democratic Council.

• Complete a database of all stakeholders on the social landscape.

• Goal - peer mediation in all secondary schools.

2019:

• Publish a collection of poetry with positive messages about suicide prevention and anti-abuse.

• Achieve the goal of increasing in the age of consent to 18.

• Commission a comprehensive mental health survey in Guyana.

2019 to 2020:

• Organize a National Youth and Student Poetry Contest focusing on suicide and prevention.

2020:

• Launch a print magazine focusing on social issues.

2020 to 2021:

• Organize a National Youth and Student Music Contest focusing on suicide and prevention.

2021 and beyond:

• Continue with annual activities.

• Continue with the ongoing activities.

• Continue with the advocacy, lobbying for those measures not yet implemented.

• Continue with the information dissemination and awareness building including focus on any new needs that arise.

• Continue with building stakeholders’ collaboration by reaching out to entities not yet encompassed in collaboration and

  new entities that are established.

• Continue organizing national youth and student contests to build change agents.

 

 

POLICIES

PLANS

POLICIES

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