“If you don’t know who you are, where you are, and what the foundation is that you’re standing on, you won’t be able to begin figuring out where you are going and what your next best step is.” – Shanice Douglas in an interview with The Caribbean Current.
Mental Health has been overlooked over the years; individuals argue that “if you can’t see it, it isn’t really there”. However, the stereotype of mental health has been desensitized through social media campaigns, television shows and discussion to facilitate awareness.
Individuals and companies have made the acceptance of mental health easier. These entrepreneurs and companies are able to lull the label of mentally ill in a way that persons openly accept themselves. One such medium is journaling with Witted Roots by Shanice Douglas.
“In the Caribbean, policies and processes, as well as day-to-day thinking, need to be consciously overhauled in order for any change to the mental and emotional wellness landscape to change for the better. There are children being raised without an understanding of how to process emotions, leading to adults who engage in behaviors that are not only harmful to themselves, but to others around them.”
About Witted Roots
“I wanted Witted Roots to be that place that you could go to be vulnerable, but still be safe. A place that I always needed myself. This was integral in building the foundation of Witted Roots, then going on to conceptualize and produce both a guided-reflection journal and a docu-series.” – Shanice Douglas in an interview with The Caribbean Current.
Witted Roots, which launched in early February 2017, is a “mental and emotional wellness platform” in which creative millennials and women of colour can explore their mental health. Awesome right?
“Even as an avid purveyor of various wellness sites, companies, and organizations, I could not comfortably find a space where I fit; where my creativity, and my culture, and my accent would be lovingly embraced without feeling like an “Other” or a “token black girl.” – Shanice Douglas in an interview with The Caribbean Current.
Shanice’s passion and appreciation for the study of Psychology, during her tertiary and higher education, sprouted the conceptualization of Witted Roots. She was able to delve into how individuals discover and feel about their wellness, reasons for their behaviour and how the two are inter-related.
“I decided to curate this space for a millennial age-group of women because this is what I like to call our Great Period of Transition. For the majority of us, we are either pursuing education, or just graduated, pursuing a professional career, starting an entrepreneurial pursuit, reconnecting with estranged loved ones, giving our self space from toxic loved ones, pursuing romantic interests, getting married, having children, buying a house, buying a car, and a number of other life transitions that we want to do or believe that we ought to do.” – Shanice Douglas in an interview with The Caribbean Current.
Over the past few years, Witted Roots took many forms but Shanice’s foundation of the journal remained the same – her personal skills to help others and making the most of her education. Through journaling, there is a potential for writing your own self-reflected collection of invaluable words as you navigate your own wellness experiences. A simple tool such as journaling can have an everlasting impact especially when you are called to express your experiences and provoke your thought processes on a sensitive topic.
“I believe that people should consider journaling for the simple fact that it will allow them to give conscious thought to themselves. Many are used to keeping their feelings, reactions, honest thoughts, under the surface, but what that typically does is lead to feelings of being stuck, confused, unsure, and unhappy.” – Shanice Douglas in an interview with The Caribbean Current.
The company, Witted Roots, was founded on the sheer passion for helping people take a more serious stance as to their mental health. Shanice wanted to fill the gap that she experienced where there was no accessibility of safe spaces to discuss mental health, especially in Jamaica and the Caribbean. She has received a lot of good reception for her journals as the initial spiral bound journals were sold out, but the paperback edition has been available for direct sale since late September 2017.
One of the main tenets of this is through education and sharing knowledge, leading to the soft launch of wittedroots.com where I, along with a team of contributors, share articles on different aspects of mental and emotional wellness.” – Shanice Douglas in an interview with The Caribbean Current.
About Shanice Douglas
“I am a storyteller, writer, mental and emotional wellness advocate with a passion and purpose for making mental health more digestible and easily accessible.” – Shanice Douglas in an interview with The Caribbean Current.
Shanice was born and grew up in the sunny parish of St. Catherine, Jamaica. Her family owned a store and when she was not going about her student duties she took on the diverse roles of bartender, stocker and shopkeeper. As a result, she found herself incapable of identifying as a carefree child, especially since she had the responsibilities as the eldest of four children; nonetheless, she was a happy child.
Her grandfather, Aston Samuels, was one of the biggest influencers in her life; looking back at her childhood, she was better able to understand her life because of him. She grew up admiring his passion for his nation and cherished her time with him. Her grandfather also pushed her in the direction of reading as he would nurture her love for literature.
“He had a genuine passion for being an upstanding global citizen, helping others to create a better life for themselves, and I value having had that example to help me lead my own endeavours.” – Shanice Douglas in an interview with The Caribbean Current.
Shanice migrated to the United States with her mother and three siblings at the age of fourteen; at that point, he defined herself as a “regular, shy girl with big eyes and knocked-knees”. She attended the Stony Brook University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts double-major in Psychology and Women’s Studies, and then pursued her Master’s degree in Psychology, Health and Behaviour from the Brunel University in London.
Whilst aspiring to be a paediatrician as a child, Shanice is now a Self-Reflection Coach; she believed it was her calling to be a listener and counsellor. She hosts virtual one-on-one sessions and facilitates spaces in which millennials are able to explore their emotional and mental wellness. Years ago she worked in cubicles on a 9-5 job, but with the launching of Witted Roots, she was able to focus on her passion. Witted Roots also allowed her to share the stories of herself and others through writing alongside her coaching.
The almost twenty-six-year-old has struck gold when she conceptualized the journal where she combined one of her life goals – aid in the understanding of psychological wellness of millennial women – with her ability to offer the resources to confidently pilot their own wellness.
Shanice too experienced a mental health issue that she described as depression after she was reunited with her family after a long time, and she then went back to America. Due to her background in Psychology in the later years, she was able to seek help from a mental health professional and adopt coping mechanisms – journaling was one.
“The gloominess of the country, the closed-in prison-like feel of the school environment, with no order, an academic curriculum that was slow and behind for me, as well as increasing family dysfunction were recipes for years’ worth of excruciatingly negative mental and emotional health experiences… Coping mechanisms look different for different people, and there is no one set prescription.”
Rooted: The Docu-Series and Reflection Journal
Shanice adored reading and writing growing up, qualities which stuck with her throughout life, as she is conceptualizing a debut of her poetry and prose collection. She is in the process of producing an online series Rooted: The Docu-Series which aims to redefine vulnerability by showing women of colour that there is in fact strength amidst ‘weakness’.
“With the production of Rooted: The Docu-Series, and the development of the Rooted Reflections Journal, we are preparing to begin reflection workshops, virtual and in-person, as well as the development of informational materials for mental and emotional wellness.” – Shanice Douglas
Shanice also has been conceptualizing guided reflection journals aimed at helping persons be self-aware of their mental and emotional health in today’s society on a deeper level. This journal is called Rooted Reflections Journal and it was launched for pre-order in March 2017.
“In conceptualizing the Rooted Reflections Journal, I wanted to tap into the various aspects of life that we all can connect with: Love, Relationships, Family, Personal Goals, etc. I used these categories to create thoughtful prompts that can help an individual begin to dig deeper into how they navigate these spaces.” – Shanice Douglas
By Alexandra Daley