Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 1st 2017 Contents SUNDAY 1 OCTOBER, 2017 -- UWI TODAY 9
e last academic year, 116
isk checks were completed
three weeks into the current
Dr. Sarah Chin Yuen Kee has
one over 20 risk assessments."
help campus cope with life
identity, stigma [and] bullying," says Dr. Chin Yuen
Kee. The intention was to initiate a conversation
across campus, "because, in the Caribbean, there
are pockets of huge intolerance to anything that is
beyond the heteronormative view." Young people
who may be questioning their sexuality or realise
that they "don't fall into the standard," may be "afraid
to come out" or ask questions openly, "and we know
that [LGBTQ students], are more likely to be isolated."
So, she says, the CAPS responded to the need for safe
spaces for LGBTQ students by creating the Safe Space
programme. She explains that it's a peer support group,
where these students can get to know, and socialise
with, supportive peers, "both in and out of the LGBTQ
community." Since Safe Space began, "we've had a huge
shi on campus," she says. In fact, "last year, a student
group started, called LGBTQ Joy ... and I thought
that was fantastic," -- it was a student-led initiative and
the rst of its kind. e DSSD recently hosted a "love
march," which was another event with big impact.
"Again, for the rst time, I saw students with LGBTQ
rainbow posters and LGBTQ slogans ... I really don't
think that would have happened back in 2008."
is semester, says Dr. Chin Yuen Kee, the CAPS
is focusing on suicide, "because that's another issue
that's very misunderstood." Typical misconceptions
are that people who consider suicide, or attempt it, are
"sel sh or weak." e truth is, "suicide is rarely about
wanting to die, but about coping with incredible pain."
If your life is unbearable and you have no hope of it
ever changing, ending your life may seem logical, she
explains. "It's o en an expression of despair, a desire
for escape or relief, not a desire to end your life."
But the stigma and shame attached to suicide
o en prevents those su ering from talking about their
feelings, "and it's almost impossible to get any support
if you don't speak up."
Unfortunately, the incidence of students
experiencing suicidal thoughts is too common. Dr.
Chin Yuen Kee says that the CAPS conducts risk
assessments for students who indicate thoughts of
suicide. ese thoughts, she says, can be "as eeting
as, 'I wish I were dead,'" or they could be "an incredibly
well-thought-out plan." ese assessments are meant
to determine "what the student's suicidal feelings mean
Over the last academic year, 116 suicidal risk
checks were completed and, just three weeks into the
current semester, Dr. Chin Yuen Kee has already done
over 20 risk assessments.
e past few years have seen suicides on campus
and within the wider community. In an effort to
start a dialogue on understanding suicide, the CAPS
has partnered with the Yellow Pebble Foundation
to initiate the [Fullstop.] project, which aims "to
promote mental wellness among our young adults."
It was launched over the August vacation, via social
media -- look for "[Fullstop.] project" on Facebook,
Instagram and Twitter -- and was rolled out on the
campus with this year's orientation. e project will
also be highlighted as a part of October's Mental
Health Awareness initiatives on campus. e UWI
sta and students are showing their support by visiting
[Fullstop.] online and posting photos of themselves
wearing [Fullstop.] buttons, posing with the [Fullstop.]
sign, or just posting a sel e, to say, 'I don't stigmatise
and I will support a friend if they open up to me.'
rough [Fullstop.], the CAPS is also attempting
to gather data "on our experiences of suicide locally,"
Dr. Chin Yuen Kee says. e project is running an
anonymous online survey with just four "yes-no"
questions. "We're encouraging people, once you reside
in Trinidad and Tobago, to go online, ll out the survey
and help us gather local data."
e CAPS is also encouraging students to take
care of their mental health, by hosting fun events and
activities this October. Of particular interest are the
Mood Food workshops that the CAPS will facilitate
in collaboration with the PCA. ey will be held at
the residence halls on UWI's main campus, as well
as at the Mt. Hope campus. ese workshops aim to
help students understand their eating habits and how
those habits a ect their mood and cognitive abilities.
It's important that students know they need to eat well
so they can "study well, sleep well and remember what
[they] studied," advises Dr. Chin Yuen Kee. Not only
will students learn the theory behind healthy eating
habits, they'll also learn to prepare budget friendly
snacks that are healthy and easy to make. Smoothies
and cinnamon popcorn were on last year's menu.
e CAPS and the PCA have also approached
U.WESpeak, a spoken word performance group,
to "partner up for their October event," so their
performances will showcase some aspect of mental
Dr. Chin Yuen Kee says that the CAPS will
also highlight stress management, mindfulness and
meditation throughout the semester. ere will be
Mindful Mondays, a weekly workshop focused on
"relaxation, meditation and mindfulness." A workshop
series on anxiety, held every ursday in October, will
teach students about di erent aspects of anxiety, like
"social anxiety, panic, performance anxiety and why
anxiety overlaps with depression." e CAPS is working
with the Guild of Students to host two workshops for
postgraduate and nal-year undergraduate students,
on coping with stress and relaxation strategies, as well
as recognizing depression and suicide.
With so many mental health initiatives already
established and those to come during October's Mental
Health Awareness drive, Dr Chin Yuen Kee hopes that
all students will have the opportunity to participate in
at least one activity that will encourage them to take
better care of themselves.
UWI is a training site for
American Heart Association (AHA)
We o er:
Qualifed Instructors • Small Classes
Certifcation valid for two years
Limited Space • For more information:
Call: 662-2002 Exts. 82149 0r 82153
visit the Health Services Unit.
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