More education, sensitization and community involvement will help countless young persons with mental health issues

Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 15, 2021 (SKNIS): World Mental Health Day was observed on October 10, 2021, under the theme “Mental Health in an Unequal World”. Michele de la Coudray-Blake, Director of the Counselling Department and Jamilla Connor of the St. Kitts Mental Health Association were guests on the October 13, 2021 edition of ‘Working For You’ where they discussed detection of mental health issues in young persons among other matters.
 
“I think we miss the signs because of a couple of reasons, but undetected is different from not paying attention. Because sometimes in retrospect, when you start to go back you would notice we do not connect what we are seeing to mental health issues. We have such a narrow perception of what mental health issues look like. As we continue to have the conversations, as we continue to sensitize, as we continue to discuss, as we continue to educate, the more people are aware of those things, the more they are able to help to provide access…I think we have to become more aware so we can pinpoint and pay attention so that we can start early,” said Mrs. de la Coudray-Blake.
 
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on people’s mental health. Some groups, including health and other frontline workers, students, people living alone, and those with pre-existing mental health conditions, have been particularly affected according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
 
Ms. Connor of the St. Kitts Mental Health Association stated that the community plays a critical role in assisting with adolescent development.  
 
“Once we build that awareness and empower the community, members will take a more active role in terms of the adolescents’ development. Where they can say yes it may not be my child but I’m going to take an interest and mentor that individual. And, also provide opportunities for them where they may not have access to if someone was not there to help them. Therefore, they would be more able to adapt and experience different things that would help them to navigate through this life and school and be able to attain the goals they set out for themselves,” said Ms. Connor.
 
During the World Health Assembly in May 2021, governments from around the world recognized the need to scale up quality mental health services at all levels. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an increase in anxiety and depression levels among young people worldwide as a result of social isolation and stress related to economic uncertainty according to the Council of Europe in their World Mental Health Day 2021 statement.

Featured Image – L-R: Michele de la Coudray-Blake; Jamilla Connor

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