Call to put emphasis on children’s mental health

The Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) is calling on policymakers in the region to prioritise children’s mental health.

At a virtual press conference on Tuesday, members of HCC across the region announced the Healthy Caribbean Youth Mental Health Call to Action in anticipation of World Mental Health Day on October 10.

Stephanie Whiteman, a youth advocate for HCC based in Barbados, said the initiative aimed to encourage governments to provide access to mental health care in communities and raise awareness at national levels.

“With our Call to Action we are asking policymakers and decision-makers to prioritise the integration of mental health services into existing health policies and emergency plans… also we’re asking them to prioritise the introduction, expansion and enforcement of regulations and policies to protect and safeguard our children from health-harming products, harassment – both in person and digital – stigma and discrimination.”

Advocacy officer of HCC from Antigua and Barbuda, Danielle Walwyn, said the strategy was created after various webinars revealed youth’s struggles with their mental well-being.

“We as HCC and Healthy Caribbean Youth knew we had to do something to amplify these concerns around mental health but also highlight solutions that we would ensure that we are prioritising, normalising and destigmatising mental health.”

Technical advisor of HCC from Barbados, Pierre Cooke Jr said young people’s mental health should be as protected as their physical health.

“This Call to Action is a compilation of those things that we want to see improved across the region. We want this message to reach as far as the prime ministers of countries in the Caribbean so that we can get policies implemented to protect our young people.”

Also in attendance at the press conference were Executive Director of HCC, Maisha Hutton, and Counselling Psychologist, Alina Gomes, who believed this initiative was necessary to improve young people’s mental well-being. (RT)