Importance of a mentally healthy society


Metaphorically speaking, rape is a forced and inhumane violent action upon an individual or social group in which their human dignity is robbed, resulting in trauma manifested in certain mental illnesses and deviant behaviour if they go unhealed. Irritability, angry outbursts, and aggression are examples of traumatic behaviours.

European powers, traders, and plantation owners historically raped our ancestors. They robbed them of the dignity of their ancestral family name, family, work, land, justice, political participation, decent education, housing, and healthcare.

Rebellion, resistance, and reinterpretation were concrete responses to a traumatised life during slavery and the colonial, post-colonial, and independence eras. Regrettably, unresolved trauma passes from generation to generation.

I watched in awe a Facebook video of a Jamaican man in an immigration holding room at Cancun International Airport in Mexico violently mashing up the place. When unresolved historical trauma encounters contemporary trauma due to social injustice, real or perceived, it triggers rage and violence.

Caribbean societies are deeply wounded due to persistent physical, psychological, and mental rape. Events in our post-independent Caribbean continue to traumatise us and remain unresolved.

Whether it was the suppression of the black power movements (the 1970s); the Grenada Revolution and the American Invasion (1983); the assassination of the Guyanese historian, political activist, and academic Walter Rodney (1980); the oppressive regime of the Duvalier family (Haiti); the numerous hurricanes; Abu Bakr’s attempted coup d’état in Trinidad and Tobago (1990); the Green Bay Massacre in Jamaica (1978); the attack on the Catholic congregation in the Cathedral of St Lucia (2000); the Tivoli Gardens incursions in Jamaica (2010); and now the increased school violence across the Caribbean – our societies face additional trauma from violent crimes.

According to data from World Population Review, three Caribbean countries belong to the top ten countries with the highest crime rates – Trinidad and Tobago (six), Guyana (seven), and Jamaica (10).

The COVID-19 pandemic was another trauma trigger.

Returning to the Jamaican in Mexico weeks later, he was as cool as a cucumber during a Jamaica Gleaner interview, even after claims of being abused by the Mexican authorities. His approach is emblematic of how Caribbean societies deal with trauma. We bury it and move on.

The development of Caribbean societies rests primarily on their mental health. All economic gains are only sustainable if there is a mentally healthy society. In addressing endemic trauma, the challenge of governments is to use the educational, cultural, and healthcare systems as tools to heal our historical and current trauma.


One thought on “Importance of a mentally healthy society

  1. A very thorough proving article. What can we do to start a healing process for our country. Sometimes I feel that prayer is not enough.


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