The Association of Psychologists and Allied Professionals (APAP) St. Maarten, the Port St. Maarten Harbour Group of Companies, and students of the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC) are proud to present to you a new mural in Philipsburg called ‘The Sweet Spot.’ This mural aims to make you pay attention to making (your) mental health a priority. The mural is at the Boardwalk Captain Hodge Warf.
Here on Sint Maarten, mental health has been taboo for a long time. Mental health has been an unspoken private affair, with many people suffering silently. After recovering from the hurricanes in 2017, it became apparent that mental health deserved more attention. The Association encourages this development by providing interviews, presentations, articles, and radio shows. Worldwide mental health is getting more attention, significantly since the pandemic added stress to everyone’s life. Specifically, the loss of loved ones, changes in your daily routine, increased economic hardship, and more difficulties to connect in real life made people struggle with unprecedented stress, impacting their mental health. Mental health is a dynamic that comes from genetics and the things we experience throughout our lives. That is good and bad news. It means we are vulnerable to things that happen to us. Everyone can get out of balance at a specific moment in their life.
On the other hand, it is also sensitive to support, protection, and healing: things we can take action on. This requires becoming aware of our mental health needs and meeting those needs. So have that talk with people around you! Taking care of your mental health can be done on many levels. Today, you can think about what helps you to destress. For example, feel connected by asking a friend or a neighbor how they are doing or giving a smile or compliment. Tomorrow, we can change policies needed to make professionals more accessible for persons who need extra support. Perhaps the next step is collaborating with other professionals on the Caribbean islands to gather information on what contributes to mental health! But first, we need to prioritize mental health, and that starts with ourselves, you, and others by talking about it.
APAP is celebrating its fifth anniversary: their first lustrum. The Association was established in 2016 to bring together practicing psychologists to support each other in the quality development of their field. Next to that, the focus was on promoting the field and serving the social and professional interests of psychologists and related professions on St. Maarten. After these five years, the Association is not done with it yet. Actually, in a sense, you could say they just got started. There is more than enough work to do since the practice of psychology can contribute significantly to persons individually, but also on an organizational level or society. It remains a challenge to accomplish this. Even though mental health is more on the agenda, it does not always get the attention or support needed. And that is why ‘Making Mental Health a Priority’ is how APAP SXM would like to celebrate their lustrum with you! This message has been translated into a beautiful mural in our capital of Sint Maarten. We call this the sweet spot, where you can take a moment to have a thought and a conversation about the different things you need to prioritize your (and others!) mental health. Finding your sweet spot, your optimal zone of well-being. We want to invite everyone to sit down and talk about how we all (individually or as a group) can make mental health a priority on Sint Maarten.
We are thankful for the support of the Port St. Maarten Group of Companies for permitting the use of their wall and the AUC students for designing and making the mural. A special thank you goes to Chimdi Onuoha, the artist who developed the design based on input from members of APAP SXM. We could not have done this without you! Just like making mental health a priority, it requires connectedness and collaboration. So please take a seat at the sweet spot at Captain Hodge Warf, take a look at the mural, share your thoughts with someone you know or just met on the spot. Take that selfie, share it on social media with #mentalhealthpriority and #APAPSXM, and put it in the spotlight.