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Caribbean Journal of Psychology Volume 15 Issue 1

Edited by Jaipaul L. Roopnarine

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Editorial Board

Jaipaul L. Roopnarine
Syracuse University, USA & Anton de Kom University of Suriname


Marina Ramkissoon
The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica


Kristen L. Davis
Syracuse University, USA

Camille Alexis-Garsee
Middlesex University, England

Guillermo Bernal
University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico

John Berry
Queen’s University Canada, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russian Federation

Clement Branche
The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica

Derek Chadee
The University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad

Judith Gibbons
Saint Louis University, USA

Tobi Graafsma
Anton de Kom University, Suriname

Merry Bullock
American Psychological Association, USA

Rita Dudley-Grant
Virgin Islands Behavioural Services, US Virgin Islands

Derrick Gordon
Yale University School of Medicine, USA

Jane Holmes Bernstein
Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, Harvard Medical School, USA

Aminata Cairo
University of Leiden, Netherlands

Gail Ferguson
University of Minnesota, USA

Ishtar Govia
The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica

Caryl James
The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica

Barbara Landon
St Georges Medical School, Grenada

Kim Miller
Centers for Disease Control and Emory University, USA

Jacqueline Sharpe
The University of the West Indies Medical School, Trinidad and Tobago

Ava Thompson
University of the Bahamas, Bahamas

Ambika Krishnakumar
Syracuse University, USA

Donna Maria Maynard
The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados

Guerda Nicolas
University of Miami, USA

Orville Taylor
The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica

Michael C. Lambert
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA

Gillian Mason
The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica

Marina Ramkissoon
The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica

David Tennant
The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica


The Caribbean is known for its beauty, cultural richness, and diversity. However, like many regions around the world, mental health challenges and mental illnesses have become increasingly prevalent in the 21st century. Now that we are in the post-COVID era, the world has been forced to become more aware of the importance of mental health. Although the Caribbean has a rich cultural heritage and a history of resilience in the face of adversity, it is important to pay attention to the unique challenges faced by the region; some of which include poverty, natural disasters, and political instability (Ward & Hickling, 2004; Maynard, 2013; Maynard, Jules, & Daya, 2022).

Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are prevalent in the Caribbean. The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA, 2022a) reports that the escalating prevalence of mental health conditions has emerged as a grave and pressing public health concern in the Caribbean. Indeed, three member states of CARPHA—Guyana, Suriname, and Haiti — are among the top 20% of countries with high suicide mortality rates, with over 10 deaths per 100,000 people. Guyana has the highest rate at 40.8 deaths per 100,000 population; followed by Suriname, with 25.9 deaths per 100,000 population; and Haiti, with 11.2 deaths per 100,000 population (CARPHA, 2022b). Mental health issues are now considered to be the fifth most serious non-communicable disease in the world (UN News, 2022). This is due in part to the lack of access to mental health services, as well as the cultural stigma surrounding mental illness.

This special issue of the Caribbean Journal of Psychology focuses on mental health in the Caribbean, with an emphasis on resiliency, thriving, and positive psychology. It consists of empirical investigations that highlight culturally relevant findings and theoretical implications for mental health in the Caribbean. The region also faces significant challenges with alcohol and drug abuse (Lalwani et al., 2022); unemployment (Craigwell & Wright, 2012); and domestic violence (Lacey et al., 2021). These factors serve as stressors that contribute to a high prevalence of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and trauma (Jones, 2021; Longman-Mills et al., 2019; Lowe et al., 2014).

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Many youth in the Caribbean struggle with the transition from childhood to adolescence; given their performance on high-stakes secondary-school entrance examinations such as the 11-plus exam. This transition occurs at a critical life junction between childhood and adolescence, as pre-secondary students may experience high anxiety and depression due to societal pressures exerted on them to gain entry into high-ranking secondary schools. The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of the 11-plus exam on the mental health of pre-secondary students. In accordance with Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory (1979), a child’s well-being can be influenced by psychosocial factors such as parents, teachers, and the school environment—important agents of socialization that can influence students’ mental development during this transition. A 2-group, 2-pre-test, 1-post-test quasi-experiment with type of school (public versus private) and gender (female versus male) serving as the between groups factors was used to examine anxiety and depression levels among pre-secondary students from Barbados before and after taking the 11-plus exam. Three hundred and sixty-seven students from government-funded public schools and privately funded preparatory schools in Barbados were invited to participate in the study. Analyses revealed that student anxiety and depression symptoms declined over time. Differences in anxiety were found between student groupings based on school attended and gender; however, no differences in depression were observed. Limitations and recommendations are discussed.

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Many individuals who face psychological challenges do not seek professional help owing to negative beliefs and attitudes toward the service. Research has established the negative influence of stigma on help-seeking behaviours, but little has been done to examine the influence of religion/spirituality on help-seeking in the context of stigma. About 69% of the Jamaican population identify as Christian (Statistical Institute of Jamaica, 2011), demonstrating the deep-rooted influence of religion, and this provided a useful context for this investigation. This cross-sectional research seeks to explore whether religion/ spirituality moderates the relationship between stigma and attitudes toward professional psychological help-seeking. It used a convenience sample of 270 Jamaican adults from urban public spaces who completed a demographic questionnaire, Religious Commitment Inventory, Attitudes Towards Seeking Professional Psychological Help Scale, and the Perceived Devaluation and Discrimination Scale. Results indicated that stigma did not differ according to demographic factors. Factors positively associated with help-seeking included higher perceived stigma, higher levels of religiousness/spirituality, female gender, graduate-level education, and previous experience seeking professional help. Though higher levels of religiousness/spirituality were associated with more positive help-seeking attitudes, it did not moderate the relationship between stigma and help-seeking. The study demonstrates the necessity for religious/spiritual considerations to be included in clinical training programmes as a feature of diversity. Future research should use qualitative methods to investigate the reasons more highly religious/spiritual people may have more positive views of professional psychological help-seeking.

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The way individuals cope with rehabilitation from traumatic injuries depends on their psychological wellbeing. Depression and anxiety have been observed as being common complications of central nervous system injuries (CNSI; i.e., brain injury, spinal cord injuries, and stroke). This study exam-ines the symptoms of anxiety and depression of inpatients and outpatients with central nervous system injuries and the correlation of the results with coping strategies. This study included patients with CNSI that were treated in a rehabilitation centre in Jamaica or were outpatients of the centre due to their condition. The convenient sample included a total of 80 (i.e., 21 females and 59 male) patients. Spinal cord injury (56 patients) was the most frequent CNSI in the sample, followed by stroke (18 patients) and traumatic brain injury (6 patients). The Beck Depression Inventory-II, Beck Anxiety Inventory, and the Brief COPE Scale were used to assess patients’ symptoms of depression, symptoms of anxiety, and coping strategies, respectively. Problem-focused coping was identified as the preferred coping strategy used by patients, with no difference indicated between inpatients and outpatients with regards to the symptoms of anxiety and depression experienced. A rela-tionship was also found between coping strategies and symptoms of depres-sion and anxiety. Further findings revealed gender differences in the emotion-focused coping strategy and the symptoms of anxiety. This study highlights the growing body of persons with CNSI and provides results to educate them about coping strategies and symptoms of anxiety and depres-sion, as well as to assist health professionals when creating treatment interventions.

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Gratitude interventions are easily applicable, evidence-based interventions aimed at increasing well-being. We conducted a quasi-experimental one group study to assess the effects of a 2hr 1-day gratitude intervention on mental well-being among adults living in Suriname. Mental well-being and positive and negative affect were measured at pre-test, post-test, and 4-week follow up. Baseline data of 60 participants who met study criteria was analysed. Analyses of post-test data included assessments from 36 participants, 34 of whom completed follow-up assessments. Results from a paired sample t-test showed a significant increase in subjective well-being, psychological well-being, social well-being, and positive affect, with small to moderate effect sizes; and a significant decrease in negative affect, with a moderate effect size at post-test. When comparing post-test and follow-up assessments, no significant difference was found between scores in mental well-being, social well-being, and negative affect; but there was a significant increase in positive affect and emotional and psychological well-being. This study provides preliminary evidence that a 1-day gratitude intervention can increase mental well-being among the general population.

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This study sought to examine the improvement in self-esteem of children 11-14 years old diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after participating in the “Support for Students Exposed to Trauma” (SSET) programme. Twenty children participated in the intervention programme. Children attended a Therapeutic Summer Camp (TSC) which included lessons from the SSET programme. The TSC was delivered weekly, one day per week for 5 hours, over a period of 5 weeks. Children’s self-esteem scores before the intervention were compared with those obtained after the intervention and were analysed using a paired samples t-test. Findings showed pre-intervention average self-esteemscores for males were lower than for females, but post-intervention showed no significant difference between the scores of both sexes. Results from the paired samples t-test indicated that there were significant improvements in self-esteem scores following the SSET intervention programme – from 13.70 ± 4.014 to 24.45 ± 1.849, with an improvement of 10.750 (T(19) = -11.436, p = 0.000). From these findings, we concluded that the SSET programme demonstrated some efficacy for increasing children’s self-esteem, and made the recommendation of applying similar intervention programmes to support children diagnosed with PTSD.

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The fields of Psychology, Psychotherapy, and Counselling have long been criticised for their inability to engage with Black communities in the West. Further, Western Psychology has failed in developing models for understanding Black people and developing culturally appropriate services that African-heritage communities find accessible or effective. This paper evaluates an African-centred training programme for African-heritage mental health practitioners and community well-being champions in the UK. The programme provides an African-centred knowledge base and the space for participants to explore their current practice in order to develop appropriate models of mental well-being for Black communities. Six months after completing the course, 12 of the students from a total cohort of 38 formed a focus group around a loosely structured set of questions, to explore the impact the course had on them personally, professionally and in their practice. An analysis of the focus group transcript provided examples of participant statements that aligned with Parham’s (2002) Five African Characteristics (5AC). Analysis of the statements made by focus-group participants about the course found that they aligned with the working hypothesis of the researchers; strongly indicating that when African/Black psychology is centred for the African-heritage practitioner, it is transformative and offers alternatives to a Eurocentric approach — alternatives that are intrinsically more authentic. The students from a broad range of European theoretical training approaches and positions were able to reflect, explore, and re-evaluate their therapeutic assumptions and practices and successfully develop and deliver a range of culturally–appropriate targeted interventions to Black communities in the UK.

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