Mental health awareness event generates donations for Clarevue

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The country’s lone mental health facility will receive donations from a charitable event.

Derri-Ann Browne, producer of the 2nd annual Women’s Empowerment Brunch which focused on Mental Health Awareness and Wellness, said it’s her hope that the government-run Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital will benefit tremendously with assistance from patrons and donors.

“We’ve gotten a lot of donors to donate things in kind, monetary as well, so I really hope that Clarevue at the end of the day is really happy with the outcome of the brunch,” she told OBSERVER media on Sunday.

Browne and her planning team brought international speakers to inspire the nation’s women and create a safe space to discuss women’s issues. Networking was a hallmark of the event.

 “We’ve more than doubled our numbers from last year. Everybody’s just enjoying the camaraderie, the love, the sisterhood and identifying with a lot of the speakers’ testimonies. A lady just came to me and she said one of the speakers actually spoke about something she is personally going through right now that she hasn’t told anybody.”

Meanwhile, women were urged to prioritize self-care.

Award-winning TV Journalist Natasha Alford was open about her lupus diagnosis and factors that may have worsened the condition during her presentation.

At what may have been the height of her success as an African-American woman, her life came “tumbling down” after her diagnosis and she struggled to take time to nurse her body while balancing a demanding job in a big city.

“There were so many tragic stories that I had to write about the deaths of black people in the US, at the hands of the police. I had been suffering heartbreak from a relationship that didn’t work out and then one morning, I couldn’t bend my wrist,” Alford admitted to the audience on Sunday.

The New York State Journalist shared that she tried to cover up her pain and growing depression about her condition by immersing herself in work.

 “At first, I thought I should ignore it, get to the office and I put some ‘Icy Hot’ patches [on] and kept going. But, as the anxiety and the stress started to rise within me, I realized that I couldn’t ignore the pain anymore,” she said.

 Alford said that God told her to share her testimony three years ago but like many women, she simply powered through her symptoms as she believed showing signs of weakness may have prevented her from getting opportunities that would advance her career.

“All I had to do was ask for help and I think that when we talk about mental illness or mental health or mental wellness we often think about the extremes – bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia. We are here raising money for a mental health hospital and we think that maybe those things don’t have anything to do with us.

“It is possible to be beautiful on the outside and be completely broken on the inside,” Alford said.

The 2019 Women’s Empowerment Retreat was held at Government House on Sunday under the theme “She Changes Everything”.

The event featured several key speakers, including Clinical Psychologist Tiffany Smith, Event Planner Melinda Fletcher, Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin, Alison Hinds and Celebrity Publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure.

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