President of the Men’s Empowerment Network, Fabian Sargeant is pleading with the Government to invest in empowerment programmes for men, following reports of a 19-year-old father of an infant allegedly taking his own life this week.
He also called on churches to play a major role in reaching out to men, especially given the worrying increase in young males over the last year allegedly committing suicide. This, coupled with the increasing number of males imprisoned, should ring the alarm that men are in trouble and need help, he added.
“There need to be services where men can go and talk, where they can offload. Men need places they can go and don’t feel victimized and discriminated against because you name man. We want to know that there is a safe space for men in communities. There are no places for men to talk. You got a lot of churches here. Instead of churches running after people’s finances, provide a counselling centre. You got a lot of retired psychologists, social workers and counsellors that frequent those same churches.
“I believe that the churches have a lot of resources that can help take some of the burden off of the Government. They collect all of this money and they are not allowed to pay taxes because of the Charities Act. So they can take some of that money and put back into the community. Provide an environment that young boys and men can come and really offload.”
Kodia Kody Hoyte, was found hanging at his Cane Vale, Christ Church community, on Tuesday night, leaving his one-year-old son, mother and other relatives to mourn.
According to Sargeant, a practising social worker, people taking their own life speaks to them not coping well in an environment where there is a lack of support. Sargeant said people who commit suicide would have suffered from environmental and possibly psychological issues that they were not handling well.
The president said: “I really feel that there needs to be more support at the community level and the Government level. I mean it doesn’t really take a rocket scientist to know that men need help. Look at our prison, look at the suicide rates, look at the number of people that have killed themselves. Look at the five young men who are alleged to have taken the life of one young fella in St Matthias, they are all young men.”
Meanwhile, Democratic Labour Party (DLP) candidate in last year’s St George North by-election Floyd Reifer is calling on Government to pay greater attention to the mental health of Barbadians, especially young men.
In a statement issued today, Reifer recommended that Government should launch a campaign to make citizens aware of avenues they can seek help.
The political aspirant also wants immediate consideration to be given to increasing support streams available.
Reifer said he believes that Government is underscoring the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of Barbadians.
The professional cricketer said the reality stands that many people are finding it extremely difficult to cope with the stress associated with job losses, online learning and lack of opportunities to socialize. Reifer noted that COVID fatigue is not only a theoretical concept, it is a real challenge.
He said: “I am particularly concerned about our young men, and the lack of avenues for them to share their difficulty with depression. The reality is, the stigma associated with mental illness in Barbados and the wider Caribbean is still prevalent. Hence, many young men feel as if it is weak for them to share their problems. The last three suicide deaths in this country were young men under 30 years old. That is three young men too many.”
Meanwhile, psychologist and Chief Executive Officer of the Supreme Counselling for Personal Development Shawn Clarke said the time has come for society to focus on encouraging young people to speak what is on their mind, and not to try to address matters, particularly mental issues on their own.
Clarke said it is important that elders in society find the time to listen to the youth when they reach out and advise them to immediately seek professional health if needed.
“We need to know our family members. We need to get to know our friends. With everything that is going on with the shutdown, with everything that is going on with the ashfall and other things that are causing personal pressures and personal stress and things that are seemingly unmanageable that seem to be a bit heavy for persons to carry, this is the ideal time that we need to look out for each other and lend that listening ear so that we can stop the incidences of suicide among young people”.