Antiguan psychologists agree on the need for mental evaluations and support for Barbudans after losing their homes and personal possessions during Hurricane Irma.
Alaina Gomes, counselling psychologist said that professional help may be useful for Barbudans to identify how they are feeling, to develop coping skills, to feel more comfortable in their current circumstances and to move forward. Gomes is in the process of mobilizing other local psychologists to offer their time and expertise towards the full recovery of Barbudans’ emotional and mental state.
Helen Brody, Clinical Psychologist shared similar sentiments.
“Anyone one of us can have a problem. Something can go wrong with the brain at any time. And in this day and age it is fixable. Any psychological problem can be fixed … to help people go on with their life,” Brody said.
Both Gomes and Brody posited that connecting with Barbudans in group sessions would be an effective approach to addressing the desire for companionship and trust that are particularly needed after any traumatic event.
One major challenge experienced by Antiguan psychologists is the stigma associated with mental care. Alisha Thomas, young aspiring psychologist shared her view on the matter. She explained that within her peer group, anyone receiving or even considering counselling support is commonly stereotyped as suffering from extreme forms of mental illness
Brody also shared her experience in relation to stigma as she explained that the majority of her patients are non-locals.
The psychologists clarified this by stating that in addition to the treatment and cure of mental illness, they also provide emotional support for anyone who has experienced significant trauma.
They are agreed that Hurricane Irma caused some level of trauma due to the sudden and severe losses faced by the entire community.
Gomes expressed her desire to speak with Shelter organizers and to initiate a meeting with Barbudans in order to open a line of communication with Antiguan psychologists.