Celebrated annually, Mental Health week is always scheduled to end on Father’s Day in the USA, a day was chosen as the anchor to make use of the extra attention paid to male family members near that holiday.
As thousands of awareness activities take place in the USA and around the globe in recognition of Men’s Mental Health Week, Island Wave founder Kalpee (Christian Kalpee) opens up the conversation between his peers in regards to the topics not being spoken about within the Caribbean and the importance of supporting mental health in men.
Men’s Health Week in the USA provides an opportunity to educate the public about what can be done to improve the state of men’s health while providing free and convenient health services to boys and men who wouldn’t otherwise receive such care.
With the suicide rate amongst young black men in the West Indies rising, this young generation of men is leading the conversation as they talk openly about their experiences to both international and local audiences. This outreach is specifically shaped around the male perspective within the Caribbean community.
Kalpee is joined by Oritse Williams founding member of UK group JLS, Freetown Collective from Trinidad & Tobago, Grammy Award-winning artist/producer Walshy Fire, Haitian singer J-Perry and Jamaican dancehall artists king Bling-Dawg and Vyzadom.
The hope is that by sharing their experiences as men from the Caribbean and their encounters with mental health–whether this is their own directly or through observation of those around them, they will increase awareness within the West Indies, of male health issues and encourage inter-and intra-national institutions to develop health policies and services that meet the specific needs of men, boys, and their families.
As Island Wave continues to strive in educating its audience about the importance of caring for your mental health and uplifting resources for men, it also promotes positive music with a clear intention for the message to better the mental state and energise its audience.
Island Wave and its community of like-minded individuals are anchored in their belief that success is measured by the ability of the artist on its stages to educate and give back to their local communities and those of the Caribbean and African Diaspora internationally.
In pursuit of Island Waves Community goals, the collective is seeking to meet youth and emerging minds where they are and carries with it a message of positivity, forward-thinking and frontline experiences.
“I think in the Caribbean, mental health is still a relatively new topic. The younger generations, because of social media are more open to discussing it, which is amazing, but there is so much educating that needs to be done when it comes to not only mental health but in general, how we view acceptance in the Caribbean. Everything we know is what we’ve been taught so, in my opinion, we need to learn how to open our minds, to look at difference and individualism as the blessings that it is, so that the next generation grow up with the knowledge, to view the things that usually scare us or seem so foreign to us, as normal. So that they learn how to encourage their peers, to lift each other up and be comfortable in their own skin,” Kalpee stated.
“It’s important that our elders in power, recognise their importance to help implement ways to educate teachers and students and the general public about mental health and mindfulness exercises, that might help us to deal with the moments, that we know can be extremely challenging. The quicker we start the conversation the quicker we put things in motion and I think that it starts with planting the seed, so that the next generation has the energy to help change things.
“I really struggled with my mental health, after a car accident in 2019 that almost took my life. The most difficult part for me was not knowing that I needed support, in my head I was just gonna get on with it and keep trying to move forward, cause that’s what I’m used to doing. But when the pressure is real, it can really pull you down. I was honestly so depressed, my anxiety was through the roof, but I didn’t know how to express that. Thankfully I had some of the most supportive people around me, who helped me get through some tough moments, they encouraged me to speak of my experience and open up and when I did, I couldn’t control my tears, it was literally a weight lifted off of my shoulders, and it made me realise that I needed help.”