We're the generation comfortable sharing what’s 'On My Mind'

St Hugh's High School student reflects on contributing to a global UNICEF report on adolescent mental health and on her own journey

Dannyelle-Jordan Bailey
Dannyelle Jordan-Bailey
Dannyelle-Jordan Bailey
26 May 2022

Dannyelle, aged 18, a student at St Hugh’s High School for Girls in Kingston, Jamaica participated in one of 71 focus group discussions conducted across 13 countries to help produce the global UNICEF report “On My Mind: How adolescents experience and perceive mental health around the world”.

One of the things I admire about my generation is that uncomfortable discussions for older people have become everyday discussions for us. We do not talk about ‘mental health’ in formal way, it is more ‘How are you doing?’ consciously checking in with friends to start a conversation that gets to the core of how we are really doing. Also, we are being conscious about our self-care too.

Myself, I do struggle with my mental health at times. It is a challenge that affects me daily and is part of who I am. So, I have had to learn how not to put myself in spaces where I am going to be triggered. It is because my mental health has become something I prioritize that I chose to participate in this initiative and to help reach someone with a similar experience. It was a pleasure to open up myself within the group and to share our experiences.

Pandemic exposed mental health issues

For me personally it was a very rough time because when school closed, that forced me to slow down. Before I was so used to being busy, waking up to go to school, doing extra-curricular activities and sometimes studying until 3am and waking up at 5am … and then starting the cycle again until another burnout.

Slowing down was hard because it forced me to spend time with myself. This made me aware of all the emotions I had suppressed, and I had to seek assistance and get some diagnoses which deep down I knew were there waiting to be made.

Teaching our parents about mental health

For me to get that help, my parents had to be the first people for me to speak with; and it was like I had to get uncomfortable with my parents for us to get comfortable talking about mental health.

In Jamaica we do not speak a lot about mental health, but I credit my family with being aware enough to recognize that we are socialized to not talk about it. So, they in effect forced themselves to talk about it with me.

They now are raising this child in a generation where we are so much more open about mental health, so they are getting used to being open. Meanwhile, I am having to be patient with them and considerate of their generational trauma and of them also getting to know themselves mentally and emotionally.

Eventually, my generation is going to be raising very emotionally intelligent children and be open to learning from our kids – they are going to teach me stuff!

What is UNICEF doing?

You can read the report to which Dannyelle contributed to here. Our mobile messaging service for youth, U-Report, recently launched a new mental wellness service called U-Matter in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Wellness. Messaging the word SUPPORT to U-Report allows youth aged 16-24 to chat anonymously with trained U-Matter counsellors free of charge.

U-Matter

About Blog

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

Follow UNICEF on TwitterFacebook, Instagram and YouTube

Explore our blog topics: