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Caribbean Journal of Psychology Volume 15 Issue 2

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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