Opo Yeye, Raising the Spirit: Community and University Collaboration in Addressing Community Mental Well Being
The Opo Yeye program is an approach to mental well being based on lessons learned from the Afro-Surinamese population in Paramaribo, Suriname. Opo Yeye is a Surinamese expression meaning “Raising the Spirit”. The basic tenets of this approach to mental well being include a multiple sense of self that is interconnected to family, community and forces seen and unseen, empowerment based on activities that elevate the self, and a keen understanding of the hebi or burdens that way a person down and interfere with personal and communal elevation. The program has been embraced and developed for practical application through community based participatory research. Four community groups in Lexington, Kentucky participate in the development and utilization of the program, namely an African American population, a refugee population, a Latino population, and participants in a teen mother program. Through establishing a “Council of Elders” in each community a sense of responsibility, ownership, and sustainability is enforced in the implementation and development of the program.
Keywords: Mental Well Being, Community, Minority Populations
Dr. Aminata Cairo
Research Associate, Department of Community and Leadership Development, University of Kentucky