Guyana Learning and Cultural Immersion Programme: understanding and preventing suicide in Guyana

The Guyana Foundation through its partnership with the William James College recently held a training workshop at the Sunrise Center in Essequibo. The William James College is a leader in educating the next generation of mental health professionals through its Counseling and Psychology graduate and undergraduate programs. The University is located in Newton Massachusetts, USA.

The Guyana Service Learning and Cultural Immersion Program of the university is headed by Guyanese, Dr. Natalie Cort, who is the Assistant Professor at William James College. A  3-days (25th -27th July 2018) empirically supported Suicide Gatekeepers Training was conducted by 6 Psychology and mental health counseling graduate students, Marie Berthonia Antonie, Cydne Branch, April Clayton, Sohenga Depestre, Ariana Slotinick and Damon Pryor.

The training workshop increased the ability of community leaders to effectively respond to, intervene and support suicidal individuals. The workshop, increased participants knowledge on suicide, major depression giving them the guidance to be able to intervene with persons at risk to suicide.

The workshop covered practical and effective problem solving and stress management methods, adapted from interpersonal psychotherapy for depression and music therapy. The workshop, which was highly interactive and fully participatory in nature, included mini-lectures, facilitated discussions, group work and expressive arts activities.

A total of 52 participants were in attendance and included representatives from the Ministry of Health, Social Protection, New Opportunity Corps, Hope For All, Child Care and Protection, members representing the three major religious organizations in Guyana, recruits from the Richard Fickal Police College, volunteers from Caribbean Voice, members of the newly formed Sunrise Support group in Wakenaam, volunteers of the Guyana Foundation and other community leaders.

Participants expressed their gratitude in songs and words of appreciation for being given the opportunity to be a part of the workshop and shared how they would take back the knowledge gained to their organizations and community and even apply to their personal lives.

 Participants at the workshop training session

Participants at the workshop training session

 A participant expressing his gratitude for the knowledge gained.

A participant expressing his gratitude for the knowledge gained.

 Ms. April Clayton, one of the Psychology students of the William James College conducting a training session.

Ms. April Clayton, one of the Psychology students of the William James College conducting a training session.

 One of the outdoor sessions of the training workshop.

One of the outdoor sessions of the training workshop.