(CMR) A new scholarship is now available for those individuals who want to pursue post-graduate studies in the mental health field. The Addison Kelly Memorial Scholarship has been created in memory of Caymanian teenager Addison Kelly who lost her life to suicide on 8 February 2022 at the age of 16.
Her family has established the fund to help increase the mental health support services and resources that are available on island and put more qualified Caymanians in the field.
The scholarship will be administered through the Alex Panton Foundation and will offer CI$25,000 per annum for up to 4 years for Caymanians to pursue post-graduate studies in the fields of psychology, psychiatry or psychotherapy. It will be awarded every two years (biennially) and recipients must return to work in Cayman for the number of years for which the scholarship was given. The opportunity also includes a mentorship with a doctor level psychologist/mental health provider to support the navigation of this journey.
“Our precious Addi struggled with several mental illnesses in her life and benefitted greatly from the expertise and quality care of a team of doctors here in Cayman. She expressed a desire to become a psychiatrist and in her hopeful moments, started making plans to bring that dream to fruition. Her vision was to help other young persons who are battling mental illnesses,” said Addison’s mother Rhonda Kelly.
Ms. Kelly said her family believes that this scholarship is one of the best ways to honor Addison's dream and build a legacy of hope in her name and memory.
She added, “The Alex Panton Foundation is the perfect organization with which to partner as the team there is already doing important and much-needed work to help the youth in our community. The scholarship will complement their initiatives, and we are grateful to be a part of this movement they have created to overcome the stigma.”
Ms. Kelly said that both her family and the members of the Foundation recognize the importance of having trained Caymanian mental health professionals who also have the cultural awareness and competency of the community they are servicing and inherently understand the unique needs that are presented.
“The mental health needs in our country are on the increase; hence the need for local mental health providers is in high demand,” said Dr. Erica Lam, executive member of the Alex Panton Foundation and Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Aspire Therapeutic Services.
Dr. Lam explained that the process of training to become a mental health practitioner, psychologist, or therapist is hard work and requires dedication before one can begin practicing. It involves an undergraduate, followed by postgraduate training and clinical internship, or/and doctoral program. Even after the postgraduate/doctoral program, the requirement to meet supervised experience can take up to years. This can take up to 10 years before one can practice.
“Sometimes students run out of funding to support further study or pay for the living cost during their internship. Hence a scholarship that specifically supports students in this field is desperately needed to ensure the student’s passion and dedication is supported and to make the workforce more equal for those who might not have the privilege of financial support from their family,” Dr. Lam added.
The Addison Kelly Memorial Scholarship will be funded primarily from the proceeds of the Addison Kelly Butterfly 5k Walk/Run, the first of which took place on Saturday, 4 February. About 900 individuals participated in the event, which raised just over US$52,000 in registrations and donations. Dart has matched those funds, giving the scholarship coffers significant seed money to award to its first recipient in 2023.
For more information about the Addison Kelly Memorial Scholarship visit https://alexpantonfoundation.ky/addison-kelly-memorial-scholarship/, call 329-4480 or email [email protected].