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Use Play to Promote Mental Wellness in Children

Chief Executive Officer, Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), Rosalee Gage-Grey is encouraging parents and guardians to utilise play therapy as a means of promoting mental wellness in children.

She said that there has been an uptick in demand for therapeutic services for children, particularly since the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has disrupted their way of life and has forced children to reduce contact with their peers.

“To reduce the impact of the pandemic, play is absolutely critical. We encourage parents to find creative ways to play. Play can be facilitated indoors and outdoors.

It improves the child’s concentration, builds resilience, promotes positive feelings, social competence and desirable behaviours. Play promotes factors that support good mental health and it is important to children’s overall well-being,” she said.

Mrs. Gage-Grey was speaking at a virtual Child and Adolescent Mental Health Awareness Day round table on May 27, organised by the Nathan Ebanks Foundation.

The event, held under the theme ‘The Power of Play: Helping Children Cope in the COVID-19 Era’ was aimed at providing information and resources to help young people cope during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mrs. Gage-Gray said that good mental health “is necessary for our overall health and has become even more pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has not only negatively impacted adults but also our children. Oftentimes, our children with mental health issues feel as if they have nowhere to turn”.

She noted that the issue is further compounded by the existing stigma associated with mental health, which discourages parents from seeking help for their children.

The CPFSA Head urged parents to seek help from social agencies mandated to provide assistance to children and adolescents.

For assistance, persons can contact the following support agencies:

CPFSA at (876) 878-2882; Ministry of Health and Wellness mental health hotline, 876-NEW-LIFE (876-639-5433); Ministry of Justice, Victim Services Division, (876) 946-0663, (876) 946-9287; Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Bureau of Gender Affairs, (876) 553-0372 (females), (876) 553-0387 (males); Woman Inc. Crisis Centre, (876) 929-2997 (Kingston), (876) 952-9533 (St. James); Choose Life, (876) 920-7924; and RISE Life Management Services, (876) 967-3777 – 8.