Haile Clacken's mom leads mental illness awareness campaign

November 14, 2018
These youngsters hang out in front a monument in Cheapside, St Elizabeth.

Adamant that persons with mental illnesses can be very beneficial to society, Lilieth Clacken, head of the Haile Clacken Bipolar Foundation, is on a mission to educate Jamaicans about mental illness.

Haile Clacken was killed under controversial circumstances by a security guard last June in Cheapside, St Elizabeth. The security guard is now facing a murder charge.

"I wanted to have a foundation to educate and help bring awareness to this illness that is so very popular but not addressed in the right way because of the stigma that is placed on it."

Clacken was once a teacher at Newell High School, where a mental-health awareness lecture was held on Saturday. The symposium featured several presentations from various guests, including Dr Darth Garvey and Carol Narcisse.

"People who have mental illness won't seek help because they feel that they will get ill-treated in society," said the resolute mother, who is determined to preserve her son's memory.

"As a community, it is important to support these people who have mental illnesses because they can be very beneficial to society, as my son was. So, we are here to educate the people of Newell about mental illnesses and how best we can deal with that," she said.

"This is our second outreach in Jamaica, and we try to do it every quarter," said Clacken. "We want to move around the island to educate, inform, and to gather other people's stories. It is really important that every case is dealt with and people can be advised on what to do and where to get help."

The Haile Clacken Bipolar Foundation now has a website, hcbipolarfoundation.org, and is also a registered organisation in New York, where several functions have already been held.

"I love my country, and as much as I can help anyone with mental illness, I will. My son was one the most giving and selfless persons. He also said he wanted to help people," said Clacken.

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