National Library, Sonia Noel Foundation host mental health forum
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From left to right: Sonia Noel, Nazim Hussain and Dr. Ashonda Washington.
From left to right: Sonia Noel, Nazim Hussain and Dr. Ashonda Washington.

FINDING your Centre, an event hosted by the Sonia Noel Foundation, in collaboration with the National Library, was held on Friday last, to create awareness and encourage discussions on mental health.
The event was held to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Month which was observed in May under the theme, “Together for Mental Health.”

Dr. Ashonda Washington, a general practitioner attached to the Dorothy Bailey Centre; Nazim Hussain, manager of the Food Bank at the National AIDS Programme and Sonia Noel, founder of the Sonia Noel Foundation, were part of a panel discussion.

Noel, during the discussion, said that a healthy outside begins from the inside through the thoughts that are downloaded or digested.
“We have to have consistency to get results, and not only in the month designated for the awareness,” she related.

According to the panel, wellness is the state of being healthy, especially when actively trying to achieve this. Well-being, on the other hand, is considered general health and happiness, a state of emotional, physical, or psychological well-being.

As May is the time to raise awareness of those living with mental and behavioural health issues and to help reduce the stigma, Emily King, Chief Librarian, said that the library was pleased to collaborate to bring awareness to the issue.

“Forums like these assist in removing the stigma and I commend the people who shared their stories,” King said.
Alicia Daniel, a writer, explained that listening to everyone was an empowering experience and she thanked Noel for opening up such conversations while providing the forum for them to freely express themselves without judgement.

“Acknowledging the stigma, providing information, and finding tailor-made solutions is the path we can take to assist victims in managing and overcoming such issues,” Daniels explained.
The audience’s participation was tremendous and people shared their personal experiences in dealing with mental health.

Seventy-two-year-old jazz musician Herbie Marshal said that his love for music and mastering the guitar had allowed him to live a fulfilled life.
Additionally, Nebiola Toppin said that the discussion was enlightening and inspiring. She explained that it helped her to find many strategies on how to take care of her mental health.

“The focus on mental health and self-care was especially important for me. It was interesting and alarming listening to some of the stories and struggles with mental health and suicide. I especially loved that all of them found some coping mechanisms and strategies to help them. I most importantly loved that, persons found help and strength in God,” Toppin said.

The event also featured a book signing by Noel and two other Guyanese authors, Alicia Daniels, and Latoya Barton, who recently published her first book on Amazon. Barton’s book is available locally at the Austin’s Book Store.

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