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The final Adolescent Mental Health Training Seminar for Teachers and Mental Health Officers was held on Friday (December 4), in Ocho Rios, St. Ann.
The workshop is the final in a series conducted this year by the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education. It was held at the Ruins at the Falls under the theme, “There Is No Good Health without Good Mental Health”.
The Ministry of Health’s Co-ordinator for Adolescent Health, Joi Chambers, said that the workshop was designed to train and sensitise educational professionals regarding issues of sexual orientation and the adolescence.
It also allowed them to be able to identify signs and symptoms, and develop counselling techniques in treating with mental disorders in children and adolescents.
“We started this programme in October. We had one training of 150 school professionals and 75 health professionals in November and so, today, we are bringing together both teams,” Miss Chambers explained.
She noted that it is expected that, after the training session, participants will be able to identify children with mental disorders and refer them for care.
In addition, Assistant Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education’s Guidance and Counselling Unit, Antoinette Brooks, noted that the workshop was of paramount importance to the Ministry.
“I am sure that you have been hearing concerns expressed about the behaviour of our children in our schools. It is for that reason that the Ministries have come together. No longer can we seek to do things on our own,” she commented.
“We have been sending our children to the Child Guidance Clinics and, sometimes, we complain that the waiting list is too long, so we have to come up with alternate strategies to ensure that together we work for the benefit of our children,” Mrs. Brooks said.
She also stated that educators, through this workshop, were being given an opportunity to help their schools to become child friendly institutions, which is one of the outcomes expected by the Ministry of Education.
Mrs. Brooks encouraged the educators to grasp all they could from the workshop, so as to become instrumental in the thrust to effect positive changes in the behaviours of the nation’s children.
President of the Jamaica Association of Guidance Counsellors, Mrs. Jennifer Willie, said that the workshop was very interesting and highly interactive.
“I believe that for a long time we have suffered in terms of the kind of work that we are able to do in schools, mainly because I don’t think we have recognised the magnitude of the problems that we have encountered but, at least, we are getting there now and I do believe that, for most of us, we will benefit immensely,” Mrs. Willie told JIS News.
Focussing on partnerships, Mrs. Willie said that she was happy for the partnership between the Ministries, pointing out that it was one that was broad based enough to involve parents, as they too had an important role to play in the process.
“Parents you need to be more aware of your children as they grow up. Get involved in the process; know the things they do, the friends they keep, the places they go. Not that you are going to allow them to do all the things they want to do, but I think that if we get to understand it a little better, we might be able to help them make the adjustment a lot better and hence we will save ourselves a lot of the headaches and heartaches that we are faced with now,” she said.
The Adolescent Mental Health Workshop is the latest initiative of the Ministry of Health/Ministry of Education’s Mental Health Committee, which is a subgroup of the National School Enhancement Committee.

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