Mental Health in the Caribbean Community

The Caribbean Association of Georgia, Inc. (CAG), under the leadership of President Samantha Samuels, voted to establish Mental Health as a key initiative to address in the Caribbean community to increase awareness, diminish stigma, alleviate misunderstandings, and facilitate dialogue about Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Suicide amongst the Caribbean population.


"Getting Rid of the Stigma" is one of the reasons we want to bring light to mental health in the Caribbean Community. Mental health services are a challenge in the community and this is based from cultural stigmatization and because of this many first-generation Caribbean-Americans are struggling with both home and American life.


In their homes they are considered Caribbean, but they want to identify with being Americans as well. We want Mental Health Professionals to be educated and aware as to some of the challenges that face the first generation of Caribbean Americans. Secondly, we want parents to understand that their child is not mad or crazy or will not embarrass them if they get help with coping with life. To the first generation of Caribbean Americans we want them to know it is okay to seek help, they are not weak but strong individuals.  


·        On average, Caribbean countries spend only 4.3 % of their healthcare budgets on mental health services

·        60% of mental health patients in the Caribbean are less likely to have received mental-health treatment or counseling





Getting Rid Of The Stigma

December 15 @ 2pm





Suicide Prevention Awareness Forum   

On Saturday, September 26, 2020, The Caribbean Association of Georgia, Inc. will collaborate with AuthenticMe Consulting, LLC, and Sacred Families International Network, Inc. to host a Suicide Prevention Awareness Forum in recognition of September being Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The hybrid online/in-person event will take place from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm at Caribbean Life TV (CLTV) Studios in Stone Mountain, Georgia will feature QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training, a Suicide Survivors Panel Discussion, and more. 





Watch the Caribbean Association of Georgia's 2020 National Caribbean Heritage Month Panel Discussion -  Mental Health in the Caribbean Community: The Peer Experience

Watch the Caribbean Association of Georgia's 2020 National Caribbean Heritage Month Panel Discussion - Mental Health in the Caribbean Community: When Trauma Persist: Signs, Symptoms, & Solutions 

Watch the 2020 National Caribbean Heritage Month Mental Health Panel Discussion FaceBook LIVE recording of:  Addressing Mental Health

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Meet Our Moderator & Panelist

"Mrs. Olinda" Ricard-Hodge, CPS-MH  

MODERATOR (6/17/2020)

Founder, Sacred Families International Network, Inc.

“Mrs. Olinda” is of mixed Trinidadian and Cajun/Creole heritage.  She serves as the Secretary of the Caribbean Association of Georgia, Inc., and co-chair of its Mental Health Committee. She is employed on the View Point Health GLS Suicide Prevention Initiative Team as a Certified Peer Specialist-Mental Health where she uses her life experiences with mental health challenges to inspire hope and educate others about mental health and suicide prevention.   She is a QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Trainer and co-facilitator of a DiDi Hirsch Suicide Attempt Survivors Support Group for individuals ages 18 to 24.   Mrs. Olinda serves on the Board of the Garden of Gethsemane Homeless Shelter in Covington, GA, is also the founder of Sacred Families International Network, Inc. and owner of Grassroots Business Consulting, LLC.


Samantha Samuels, CMHLC

PANELIST (6-17-2020) & MODERATOR (6-27-2020)

Owner, Authnetic Me Consulting, Inc.

Samantha’s mental health journey began when she started to grapple with severe anxiety. Several factors, including her Caribbean culture, made it difficult for her to speak openly about her feelings of anxiety and the effects it was having on her life.  In 2014, that all changed when she began a deeper spiritual walk with God to discover her authentic self. The self-discovery process revealed that her struggle with severe anxiety was due to childhood traumas. Samantha states that “My healing came when I began to rely more on the word of God for strength. I was then able to pinpoint the root causes of my anxiety and gain control.” 


She states that even her son even noticed the change and commented, “Mom, something is different about you.”   Samantha rejoices that she is no longer a slave to anxiety and started her coaching practice to help others identify their authentic self by isolating the obstacles that hold them back from living their authentic life.  Samantha Samuels is a wife and a mother of three. She enjoys nature walks and hopes to visit the top ten State Parks in Georgia for 2020.



Adiasha Richards, LMHC

PANELIST (6/17/2020)

Owner, Growth and Transitions Counseling

Adiasha is a proud Trinidadian, owner of Growth and Transitions Counseling located out of two offices in Queens NY (Ridgewood and Howard Beach).  She has a team of licensed therapists that serve a wide demographic of people in the areas focused on Mental Health Services.  Her practice offers Individual Counseling, Couples and Marital Counseling, Pre Marital Counseling, Family Counseling, and Adolescent Counseling.  Adiasha is passionate about therapy that is deep and heals the wounds beneath the surface. She believes her purpose is to serve as a healer, which she aims to do through her private practice, supervising and coaching aspiring clinicians, speaking engagements, and workshops she hosts.  She works individually with women to help them work through their trauma, heal from past wounds, and grow the skills needed to move out of surviving and into a life of full living. 

Mollie Innocent-Cupid, LCSW

PANELIST (6/17/2020)

Mollie is a licensed clinical social worker. She received a Bachelor's degree from Rutgers University in Psychology and Sociology. She received her Masters in Social Work from Fordham University with a specialization in children and families. Mollie has worked with those who struggle with mental illness through various programs including group homes, Assertive Community Treatment, school-based services, and intensive outpatient services.  She has worked with both children and veterans who have faced complex trauma and has a passion for trauma-oriented care. She has been trained in EMDR and is a Certified Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapist.


She is currently pursuing a doctorate in sociology at Georgia State University, with a research focus on Haitian-Americans and mental well-being.  Mollie is committed to increasing awareness of trauma, mental illness, and cultural competence through working collaboratively with partners and community members towards a healthier world.    She was born in Brooklyn, Mollie identifies as a proud Haitian-American.  She spent her early years in Haiti and grew up surrounded by 1st-generation Haitian Immigrant family members. 

Jordan D. Mike, M.S.

PANELIST (6/17/2020)

PhD  Student and Founder "The Caribbean Counselor"Blog

 –Jordan is a doctoral student at the University of Florida, currently working towards his PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision.  He currently serves as a student liaison for the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development and as the Graduate Student Representative for The Florida Association for Counselor Education and Supervision. As a Scholar-Activist, his research revolves around the internationalization of counseling throughout The Caribbean, trauma, and crisis work within minority communities and community healing.  Along with being a student, Jordan runs a personal blog that centers on his journey as a mental health counselor and providing mental health within a Caribbean context.   Jordan is a proud Bahamian and in his spare times enjoys tea making, fishing, and cooking.

Dr. Rennes Toussaint, DC

PANELIST (6/17/2020)

Licensed Chiropractor, Certified Life Coach, and Mental Health Advocate

 “Dr. Rennes” journey began on the Island of Dominica before her family migrated to Miami, FL. Still, at a very young age, she learned to adapt quickly and embraced all the changes that came at her full speed.  However, personal growth didn’t come easy as she struggled to find her identity and battled with Anxiety.  After putting all her energy into her education and receiving a doctorate she felt even more lost and unfulfilled.  That was when her self-discovery journey began, leading her to life abroad and traveling.  Over the years, Dr. Rennes has worked hard to kick down the barriers which kept her imprisoned in her mind and continues to work on being her true wholesome self. Today Dr. Rennes is in full-time practice as a Chiropractor and a certified Life Coach.  Her mission is to help women who are suffering in silence to find their identity and to show up fearlessly in all areas of their lives.

Dr. Surrenca T. Albert, Psy.D 

PANELIST (6/17/2020)

Owner,  Bel Lavi Wellness Services

- “Dr. Surrenca” is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist born and raised in Queens, New York.  She is of Haitian descent, which provided her a unique, down to earth perspective on issues, which impact mental health in communities of color.  Dr. Albert uses this bicultural lens to inform her clinical approach to provide client-centered culturally-competent care.  She is the CEO of her private practice, Bel Lavi Wellness Services, which specializes in individual, family, and couples counseling. 


She also serves as an Adjunct Professor with the Doctoral Program at Queens College, while concurrently maintaining a clinical role at Gouverneur Hospital.  Throughout all of her job roles, Dr. Albert's mission is mental health advocacy. She uses her Instagram page, @Dr.Surrenca, to raise awareness about many unspoken mental health issues in communities of color.

Shazam Somwar 

PANELIST (6/17/2020)

Ignight Caribbean 30 Under 30 Caribbean American Emerging Leader 

Suicide Prevention Advocate

Shazam, raised at Kilcoy/Chesney in Guyana, is an aspiring medical doctor who has chosen to live by the inspiring Mahatma Gandhi quote, "Be the change you want to see in the world." After completing his secondary education at the prestigious New Amsterdam Multilateral School (NAMS), he attended the School of Nations and Business School and is currently in his third year at Greenheart Medical University.


In 2014, when the suicide rate in Guyana was rapidly increasing, Somwar initiated a successful social media ‘Suicide Prevention Awareness’ campaign.  In 2018 he represented Guyana at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City for the Youth for Human Rights International Summit, secured the Ignite Caribbean 30 Under 30 Caribbean American Emerging Leaders Award in 2019, and serves as a Global Peace Ambassador for Guyana.

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