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“I suffered from mental illness as well and I told myself that I have to do something; I just can’t sit.” shared Shinelle Bayrd from Guyana in an interview with Her Amazing Stories after winning Youth Time’s idea grant at the 4th annual Youth Global Forum held in Paris, France on December 2-6.

Over the social media – particularly in the Philippines,  some people have been courageous enough to share their personal stories battling with mental illness which resulted to conducting mental health awareness and the passing of Mental Health Law that provides accessible and affordable mental health services in the Philippines.

However, to other countries like Guyana, in the northern part of South America, many people still seem to misunderstand the seriousness of mental health issue.

young entrepreneur pitching her idea

PASSIONATE. Shinelle pitching her idea in front of the panel of judges and participants of the Youth Global Forum in Paris, France

“When people hear mental health, they would automatically think ‘oh you’re mad, oh you’re crazy’,” Bayrd explained.  And this is one of the reasons why she came up with her project: The Wellness Center.

The Wellness Center is created as a way to address the mental health care challenges affecting the people of Guyana.

According to the World Health Organization, Guyana held the highest suicide rate in 2014 with a whopping 44 per 100,000 people – an alarming statistics to a country with less than a million people in population.

“I wanted to send a message (about mental health) and let people know exactly what it is and how they can help somebody (suffering from it) instead of discriminating and stigmatizing the situation.”

After battling with other 14 project presenters, Bayrd emerged victorious and received a supporting 6,000€ grant awarded by Julia Kinash, President and Founder of the Youth Time International Movement.

“This issue needs to be addressed immediately and I can’t wait to start it – go home and dive straight to my project,” she assured.

To head start her project, Bayrd plans to conduct a mental health awareness campaign in her country. “Hopefully, I can take this project not only in the capital city (of Guyana) but also in each and every region that we have so we can impact everyone as possible,” she said.

Lesson from pitching her idea

From pitching her idea to winning the idea grant, Bayrd narrated what she has learned along the process, “Never give up (on your dreams). After I applied (as a project presenter), I actually said to myself, ‘should I have applied?’ And doubted my project for a while. But now I know that if you believe in your idea and go out there to share your passion, all people will believe in you and will realize the idea too.”

Young entrepreneur being interviewed by Youth Time's team

MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCATE. Shinelle sharing her plans for her project, The Wellness Center, to the Youth Time.

Advice to future project presenters

For future project presenters in the next Youth Global forum, Bayrd left an empowering message:

“Don’t doubt yourself. If you have an idea, apply for it; follow it through and pour your passion and heart into it and you’ll never know what could be the result. “

The Youth Global Forum is held annually and organized by the Youth Time International Movement, a non-profit, non-political organization that actively represents a platform of dialogue between cultures and generations. The said forum is conducted to equip young business people with the necessary knowledge to foster leadership and to have a strong sense of social responsibility. It also allows young entrepreneurs to pitch their own business project in line with the event’s theme to win the idea grant and to realize their idea.