Foundation continues to assist people affected by bipolar disorder

SOUTHFIELD, St Elizabeth — The Haile Clacken Bipolar Foundation (HCBFJA), established in memory of the late Haile Clacken, continues to spread its outreach for those affected by bipolar disorder with the support of donors and fund-raising efforts.

Recently the foundation exceeded its target of $150,000 towards the purchasing psychological first aid kits.

President of the foundation and mother of Haile Clacken, Lilieth Clacken, told the Jamaica Observer that more than 80 people, including donors, attended the foundation’s fifth anniversary celebration recently.

“We had a charity dinner at Sea Coast Inn and Suites located in Lover’s Leap, St Elizabeth. Nurses from the mental health department, educators, and a wide cross section of persons who support mental health awareness were present. Dr Doret Garvey, psychiatrist, gave the charge to the attendees, encouraging mental wellness for everyone and noting that each person is responsible for their mental health,” she said, and thanked donors for their support.

Evrol “Blackie” Christian, proprietor of Little Ochie Restaurant and Bar, handed over a symbolic cheque valued at $25,000 to the foundation.

“Donors and sponsors helped to push the charity dinner towards its target. Although the charity dinner was well attended with over 80 persons in attendance, the HCBFJA will continue its efforts in achieving the necessary funding for the psychological kits required by the psychologist in assessing persons with mental illnesses,” said Lilieth Clacken.

Haile Clacken, who struggled with bipolar disorder, was killed in his home parish on June 23, 2017, after climbing on an armoured truck and was allegedly shot by a security guard.

Despite the illness that disrupted much of his adult life, his family said that his positive energy did not wane and his presence was deeply felt with everyone with whom he interacted.

The York University, Munro College and Manchester High alumnus is said to have touched lives as a student, as a journalist and educator.

His mother said that during the COVID-19 pandemic the foundation assisted people affected by mental illness.

“We function in the US and here and during the pandemic we were very integral with people who were in lockdown. When the foundation was launched, it was because of my son’s death, so his psychiatrist Dr Doret Garvey and Dr Raphael Wellington, his psychologist [and family] would liaise with each other. Persons who have bipolar order or are suffering from mental illness would [communicate with us] on Zoom… We got people who were willing to speak about their illness,” she said, in reference to the Zoom conference to bring across mental health awareness.

“We had a professional to actually address questions that the audience may ask, so we had individuals who were suffering and that programme was called Hear Our Voices, so it was unedited. They could say anything that they want about medication and how their family treats them; how they would want the community to treat them [and] how they want their employers to see them,” she added.

She said the focus for this year on purchasing psychological first aid kits will assist in assessing people suffering from bipolar disorder.

“Because [COVID-19] has eased we are now having person-person sessions to educate people about mental illness in schools, and surrounding communities,” Clacken said.

Psychologists, she said, explained said they have been seeing children ages 14, 15 and 16 displaying signs of mental illness and stressed the importance of Government and the private sector putting up more money to diagnose and treat those affected.