Mental Health Professionals Hold Public Event

Kids danced with banners streaming and tossed themselves around in a bouncy house Saturday afternoon at the St. Croix Reformed Church, while adults socialized and learned about traditional and holistic mental healthcare.

Kids run and fly banners at St. Croix Reformed Church Saturday. (Source photo by Susan Ellis)

“It’s an event to bring together a variety of holistic practitioners from mental health professionals to yoga instructors to massage therapists,” Chloe Farris, the event organizer and founder of Soul Health, Inc., said.

In addition to traditional mental health caregivers from the V.I. Health Department and The Village, there were demonstrations by yoga instructor Shera Elvins, breath work by Ray Bratcher, embodied healing by occupational therapist and fire dancer Kiki Mason, and visual arts and dance.

“Because everyone doesn’t always heal the same way,” Farris said.

The St. Croix Animal Welfare Center brought several puppies because everyone knows hugging a pet helps heal emotional and physical illness.

St. Croix Animal Welfare Center brings puppies for comfort and support. (Source photo by Susan Ellis)

Inside the church, surrounded by tables with literature about a wealth of mental health services, a panel of professional providers of various services discussed the barriers to successful psychological health care in the Virgin Islands—in other words, what the profession would look like without the territory’s normal problems.

Treatment options outlined by Rebekah Stone, massage therapist of Sol Awakening. (Source photo by Susan Ellis)

Alea Byrd, Island Therapy Solutions therapist, who works at St. Croix Good Hope Country Day School, said patients need easy phone access to make appointments or speak with caregivers. Patients should be able to see a therapist within a week of making an appointment.

Zulima Webster, who has a private practice and works at the V.I. Health Department on suicide prevention, said there should be “cleaner referral processes.” Providers, such as MAP, limit who can access services, she added.

“Having resources we’re all able to use,” Webster wished.

An “open dialogue with kids” is what Rheitza Javois wished. She is a social worker with the Village program that works with adolescents with substance abuse issues. She also wants to be able to create safe spaces for children.

“Take down stress a level. It’s contagious,” Pastor Michael DeRider said.

The other panelists were Brandy Brooks, who works with youth through the Village, and Deana Davis, who also works with young people through Island Therapy.

“The panel discussion was a thoughtful dialogue of the barriers to receiving mental health treatment in a timely manner,” Farris said.

Mental health professionals discuss some of the territory’s shortcomings preventing access to services for all V.I. residents. (Source photo by Susan Ellis)

Families brought chairs and blankets to enjoy a free showing of the Pixar film “Inside Out,” about a child suffering from depression.

Farris said she plans to hold similar monthly events for the public and meetings with caregivers.

“So, I would challenge our lawmakers to prioritize the community’s needs with vigor as the people of this beautiful island are deserving of more than what they are presently receiving,” she said.