GLEANER: State Minister in the Ministry of Education and Youth, Alando Terrelonge, is to spearhead a team that is to conduct a review of educational psychologists including social workers and counsellors within the sector.
Terrelonge made the disclosure while addressing a recent meeting of Commonwealth Youth Ministers’ in Marlborough, London where he met with the Duke of Sussex Prince Harry who was recently appointed Commonwealth Youth Ambassador by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
Terrelonge raised the issue of mental health wellness within the Commonwealth region and its prevalence among youth with specific reference to Jamaica.
“There has been increasing cause for concern within the Commonwealth about the attention given to mental health and it is critical that youth are confident that policy is being considered to provide quality support.
“In doing so, we have to ensure that we are aligned with the best practices globally in having the requisite human resource personnel to treat and counsel our youth who may need intervention and more importantly that we have persons who are trained and able to identify symptoms and treat accordingly,” Terrelonge stated.
August 12 will be celebrated as International Youth Day and the state minister indicated that he intends to have mental health among youth to be a focal point of the scheduled activities in Jamaica.
World Health Organization (WHO) statistics indicate that close to 800,000 people die as a result of suicide each year with a significant percentage being young males.
Globally, mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and behavioural disorders affect 10 to 20% of all youth.
Statistics from WHO state that half of all mental illnesses begin by age 14.
Most symptoms go undetected and untreated which severely affect children’s growth and development.
“Too many of our youth who suffer from mental health issues are living in fear, shame, and isolation. They face discrimination and many resort to suicide, which is the third-highest cause of death among our youth each year.
“Globally it is a threat to the wholesome development of our youth and predominantly among young males. It is time we raise awareness, reduce the stigma and get our youth the help and treatment they deserve,” he added.
CAPTION: Duke of Sussex Prince Harry (right) speaking with Jamaica’s Minister of State in the Ministry of Education and Youth, Alando Terrelonge, at a recent Commonwealth Youth Ministers’ meeting – Contributed photo.