2016 Festival Queen Winner and Founder of Motivate Jamaica, Kyesha Randall.
Photo: Contributed

Four years after winning the Miss Jamaica Festival Queen Competition and launching Motivate Jamaica (JA) as her national project, Kyesha Randall is still using her platform to impact the lives of Jamaicans.

Ms. Randall, who is a lover of the creative and performing arts, describes herself as a “driven and spiritual” individual, who is always seeking new ways to motivate and help others.

Her latest project, Mental Matters, is an online discussion forum that was designed to give persons the opportunity to share and learn about mental health and wellness in Jamaica.

She told JIS News that Mental Matters, which was held from May 25 to 27 via Zoom, was her way of revamping Motivate JA, by focusing on an issue that she could personally relate to and has seen risen to the forefront in recent times due to COVID-19.

“I am a silent sufferer, and navigating my emotions and mental wellness has become a part of my daily life. Some days are better than others and during COVID it became increasingly difficult to get a hold on my anxiety,” Ms. Randall stated.

“I hated the feeling, and I knew there had to be others like me who were on the same emotional roller coaster, if not worse. I was honestly just looking for a community of supporters, and God led me here to be the person who provided what I was looking for,” she added.

Ms. Randall admitted that Motivate JA had not been as active as it was when she won the 2016 Festival Queen Competition organised by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC).

“We were not doing a lot of projects that we had to sit down to really conceptualise and come up with a proposal for. What we’ve mostly been doing in the dormant season is visiting children’s home – having a day of donation, giving back and just socialising with the children who are in the homes,” she stated.

“We’ve also done a few clothes drives, giving back to the community or to other projects, but in terms of really getting some work done, Mental Matters is the project that we are using to revamp Motivate JA,” she added.

Initially, Motivate JA was targeted at impacting the lives of high-school students who were in need of emotional support.

2016 Festival Queen Winner and Founder of Motivate Jamaica, Kyesha Randall (centre), ​with singers (from left) Klarity and Merrit, who performed during one of the Motivate Jamaica School Tours. School Tours were used by Motivate JA as part of strategies to engage students.



Now, with a new project focusing on Mental Health, Ms. Randall hopes to create “a safe space” for all Jamaicans who “suffer in silence, whether from their own mental health struggles or that of a loved one”.

She told JIS News that Motivate JA partnered with organisations such as the Jamaican Psychological Society and the Jamaica Mental Health Advocacy Network (JAMHAN) to host the online forum.

The conversation was focused on three main topics – opening up about your state of mind and asking for help; coping and caring for yourself and others who go through mental illness; and breaking the stigma and identifying rehabilitation strategies and facilities that are available.

“Mental Health is such a vast topic to explore in three days and I thought these three areas would be a great way to begin the conversation and explore further what so many may want to know, but were just too afraid to ask out loud,” Ms. Randall pointed out.

She said a total of 96 persons registered to participate in the forum, adding that participants were from Jamaica, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Ms. Randall said based on feedback received, her team is looking into releasing the audio of each session as a podcast, to give participants, as well as those who were unable to join the discussion, an opportunity to listen to the tips that were given on how to manage mental health.

Meanwhile, the former festival queen noted that while the process of organising and managing a project can be very “daunting”, she is encouraging other young people, with a similar vision, but who are unsure of what to do, to just “get started and everything will fall into place”.

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