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art therapy, social action

Dem call Bellevue pon mi bredren- Mental Health among inner-city yutes


Dem call Bellevue pon mi bredren. Is a good yute, him love meditation like me, but when people nuh understand you, when dem nuh know weh u a do innah a life dem waan use yuh and treat u like how dem feel fi treat you.

My brethren always in a him house.  cause him innah him house people waan tek set pon him. more while him haffi stand up and defend himself.

One morning him just get up and seh him a sweep up out a road. while doing that him see police come fi him and seh dem hear seh him a gwaan wid a bag a tings. Him nuh really know a wah still but him seh come een we a guh check yuh out so when dem a talk to him dem see seh a one well educated yute, him reasoning ability different…

…..di people dem weh we deh roun if yuh nah do weh dem a do people look pon u different. dem feel like seh dem fi a live your life.  A nuff time dem tell me a go mad, dem a guh call Bellevue. Tru mi change mi usually bleach out, have nuff girls, mi different mi a tink bout how mi a go deal wid tings when mi yute dem come so dem nah guh haffi suffer like me.

mi know myself and mi know who me be. mi just waan see someting come a mi life. A nuff doctor me guh..

My dream enuh ….a just Marcus a lone can tell you bout it… him seh mek god and the star be the limit.

Dem all have anada bredren weh dem call  pon. it mash him up. a young yute dat. mi a tell u di truth mi nah call police pon nuh man or Bellevue and mek dem get injection, one a dem injection deh….

why somebody woulda waan mash up anada yute life?

Spiritual meditation, art and craft help me, mi exercise sometimes. mi deh roun yah from mi a 10 month old. roun yah a good place enuh but the people dem. a di people dem weh deh roun yuh.mi have some real brethren enuh but mi can count dem pon mi hand yah now.

ghetto yute have fi face lie hard. a week a go mi a work. mi a one yute weh do mi art and craft and ting and when nuh money nuh deh mi haffi go look some scrap iron. deh pon the road working mi have a knife weh mi use cleaning up di food weh mi a eat and ting. 2 police come hol mi wid a knife and seh yow yuh know seh dis can kill a man. mi tell him seh yow a work mi a work. dem carry mi guh a station and lock mi up……..

There is a bredren who comes to the ISL regularly. I think he likes the place. One day we were talking and he mentioned that it was quite common for community members to “call Bellvue pon yutes”.

Bellevue Hospital is Jamaica’s only mental health hospital.

“The evolution of mental health services in Jamaica started in 1840’s. The first designated area for the treatment of mental illness was constructed adjoining the present Kingston Public Hospital. The Jamaica Lunatic Asylum came into existence in 1861 at its present location at 16 ½ Windward Road Kingston. The hospital has had many name change and its name was changed from the Jamaica Lunatic Asylum to the Jamaica Mental Hospital in 1938. The name was again changed to the Bellevue Hospital in 1946.”

The Bellevue Hospital was established to provide care for mentally ill clients. The establishment of the hospital came out of a petition which was led by a private medical practitioner named Dr. Louis Bowerbank. This led to an enquiry the result of which was the establishment of a mental hospital for the custody and care of the mentally ill. The hospital has had a very rich and colourful history. The hospital has just over seven hundred patients. There are presently twenty three wards; the hospital is divided in acute, sub-acute, psycho-medical, mental subnormal, long stay, psycho geriatric and rehabilitative wardshttp://www.bellevuehospital.org.jm/about-us/brief-history

What alternatives do we offer youths from inner-city communities who are at risk of experiencing mental health problems?

One possibility could be establishing walk-in “art spaces or creative spaces”.

The ISL which is located near to the community of Allman Town for example could be open  during the days to give young men who are interested in art, a space to express and find community with other individuals with similar ideas, views, concerns.

Based on my conversation with this brethren, it is obvious that mental health is a problem in our communities and there is a need for more solutions to this problem. Sometimes yutes just want space.



About afifa

Dj Afifa is a selecta from Jamaica. She works on sound projects and makes spaces inspired by music. She has been working on sound art since 2009. She has co founded two spaces; the SO((U))L HQ and Di Institute for Social Leadership in Jamaica. She currently works in between both of these spaces. She has a two weekly programmes on ZanJ Radio. The Electromagneticradiation and Crocus Bag a tings.


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