The National Child and Adolescent Mental Health (NCAMH) Awareness Day will be observed this Thursday (May 26), under the theme ‘Let’s Check in with our Children: Their Mental Health Matters’. Dr Michelle Campbell, Liaison and Communications Director for the NCAMH Committee, stated that the theme was created to understand that there is a need to analyse the consequences of COVID-19 on society.
Dr Judith Leiba Thomas, Director of Child and Adolescent Mental Health in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, noted that the theme also speaks to the recent spate of events that revealed some of the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the re-socialisation and reintegration of children into school. She stated that mental health practitioners from the child and adolescent mental clinics or the child guidance clinics have been making various presentations to schools across the island in support of parent-teacher associations and guidance counsellors. They will continue to do so after the NCAMH awareness day.
The day’s highlight is a virtual scientific conference presented by the NCAMH in collaboration with the Northeast Regional Health Authority (NERHA). Dr Leiba Thomas invites doctors, teachers, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, students, and parents to participate via ZOOM ID: 86580790221 and Passcode: 759986. The seven-hour session is set to begin at 9:00 a.m., with facilitators from the medical community and children’s organisations.
Meanwhile, Dr Campbell stated that addressing the emotional well-being of children and adolescents should not be limited to teachers, guidance counsellors, and health practitioners. She emphasised that it required a “community approach” in which all stakeholders share a concern for the general well-being of young people, including their mental health.
There are resources and facilities available to address mental health challenges affecting the youth. These include Child Guidance clinics located across the island; information that can be accessed on the MOHW website; a 24/7 Helpline: 888-NEW-LIFE or 888-639-5433, operated by the MOHW; and the SAFESPOT – Free 24-hour Helpline for Children and teens – 888-SAFESPOT or 888-723-3776; or WhatsApp to send a direct message to 876-439-5199.