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’.
Liaison and Communications Director for the NCAMH Committee, Dr. Michelle Campbell, said the theme was designed against the background that there is a need to assess the effects of COVID-19 on the society.
“It is important that we assess the emotional health of our children and adolescents to ensure their mental well-being,” she said.
Director of Child and Adolescent Mental Health in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr. Judith Leiba Thomas, pointed out that the theme also speaks to the recent spate of events, which indicated some of the ill-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the resocialisation and reintegration of children with respect to school re-entry.
“There is a need for us all to ‘check in’ with our children, so that we can better understand what they are feeling, their challenges and what they have endured and are enduring, so that we can assist them to cope better,” Dr. Leiba Thomas said.
She noted that mental health practitioners in the child and adolescent mental clinics or the child guidance clinics have been making various presentations to schools across the island, in support of schools’ parent-teacher associations and guidance counsellors, and will continue to do so beyond the NCAMH awareness day.
Highlight of the day is a virtual scientific conference hosted by the NCAMH, in partnership with the Northeast Regional Health Authority (NERHA).
The seven-hour event is scheduled to start at 9:00 a.m. and will have facilitators from the medical fraternity and children-related agencies.
Dr. Leiba Thomas is encouraging doctors, teachers, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, students and parents to participate via Zoom ID: 86580790221; Passcode: 759986.
In the meantime, Dr. Campbell argued that the approach to addressing the emotional well-being of the children and adolescents should not be the concern of just teachers, guidance counsellors and health practitioners.
It requires a “community approach” where all stakeholders share concern for the general well-being of the young people, to include their emotional health, she added.
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.