Lay counselor training to grow community gatekeepers


Come next July, a thriving gatekeepers’ programme is expected to be in full swing. The initiative is one that will be implemented by The Caribbean Voice [TCV], which has been soliciting support to have the programme rolled out on a national scale.
Heeding the call for support recently was KFC [Guyana] which has handed over a sizeable sum towards the cause as part of its corporate social responsibility.

According to TCV National Coordinating Director, Mr. Nazim S. Hussain, in order to ensure that the programme is a true success, a sum of $6.4 million will have to be raised to garner the support of a highly experienced and credentialed trainer.

The trainer in question, Hussain said, will provide the needed service free of cost for one year through the non-governmental organization – SEVA International – which is based in India.

The programme will cater to the training of Lay Counsellors, who are essentially persons trained in basic mental health so that they can perform as gatekeepers within a community to proactively act on mental health issues. Among the key issues to be targeted are suicide and abuse, and it is expected that these individuals will be able to pre-empt suicide or abuse or help to bring about redress.

Moreover, the gatekeepers’ programme, Hussain explained, entails training individuals within a community to be able to use their vantage positions to detect and help address, as far as possible, those faced with the stated mental health-related challenges.

This therefore means that gatekeepers are persons who act much like first responders who target the vulnerable in communities.

Marketing Manager of KFC [Guyana], Ms. Livasti Bhooplall, in handing over the needed financial support to TCV’s Hussain, related that KFC is very proud to be contributing to the Lay Counselor Initiative, even as she encouraged corporate Guyana to donate to the cause too.

Her sentiments were echoed by Hussain, who said that it is also his hope that others within the business community will emulate the move by KFC.

“This is the first time that a company has come on board to support us like this, and we are hoping that others would do the same,” Hussain said.

Meanwhile, Bhooplall, in recognizing the importance of the venture, said that KFC was pleased to get on board, since the initiative is one that will see all 10 administration regions being able to benefit. She added that Guyana is in critical need of these types of training programmes, since the daily news is filled with domestic violence.

Among those who are likely to be identified to join the gatekeepers’ movement, Hussain said, are estate workers, teachers, policemen, business persons and even taxi drivers.

But choosing the most suitable candidates will not be a haphazard process since, according to him, an imperative approach is to reach out to human resource managers, representatives of other NGOs within the estate communities, religious organisations, among other leaders, to help identify those best suited for the programme.

“We are looking to have persons with the capacity to reach others…those who are deemed ‘people persons’ and are able to help them get the support they need,” said Hussain.

About caribvoice

Free lance journalist, educator and community activist. Guyana born New York based.
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