Mon | Mar 4, 2024

Teen makes plea for greater focus on mental health

Conference to place spotlight on adolescents next month

Published:Friday | December 8, 2023 | 12:08 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer
University student Jade Rowe addresses the media launch of the Your Mind Matters project at the Liguanea Club in New Kingston on Monday.
University student Jade Rowe addresses the media launch of the Your Mind Matters project at the Liguanea Club in New Kingston on Monday.
From left: Master of ceremonies Sherika Whitelocke-Ballingsingh; Najuequa Barnes, chief project lead; Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton; and British High Commissioner Judith Slater in conversation at the media launch for the Your Mind Matt
From left: Master of ceremonies Sherika Whitelocke-Ballingsingh; Najuequa Barnes, chief project lead; Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton; and British High Commissioner Judith Slater in conversation at the media launch for the Your Mind Matters project on Monday.
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“The pressure to excel academically may result in excessive workload, sleep deprivation, and neglect of self-care,” university student Jade Rowe noted during the media launch of an adolescent mental health conference on Monday.

“Adolescents may feel overwhelmed by the fear of failure or the weight of expectations from parents, teachers or peers,” she continued. “Continuous comparison with classmates, siblings, other relatives or even random strangers can contribute to a sense of inadequacy and self-doubt. Creating an environment that reinforces the fact that adolescents’ self-worth is not based solely on their ability or inability to excel academically is key.”

Rowe made the statements during an impassioned plea as she declared that the stigma surrounding mental health remains a formidable barrier at the launch of the Your Mind Matters project at the Liguanea Golf Club in New Kingston.

“We must actively work towards dismantling this stigma, promoting empathy and creating an environment that encourages those who are struggling to seek help. Mental health should be treated with the same urgency and compassion as physical health,” Rowe appealed.

EMPOWER WITH COPING SKILLS

She pointed out that resilience is a skill that can be nurtured, insisting that adolescents should be encouraged to develop coping mechanisms, build emotional intelligence and embrace challenges as opportunities for growth.

“Let us empower them with the tools they need to navigate life’s complexities,” she urged.

“Let us collectively commit to prioritising adolescent mental health. By fostering open communication, breaking down stigmas and providing the necessary support, we can create a world where every adolescent can thrive emotionally and reach their full potential. Together, we can make a lasting impact on the well-being of our younger generation,” she challenged the audience.

IMPORTANT INITIATIVE

The Your Mind Matters project, which is being spearheaded by MindFulness Ja, seeks to address the critical lack of mental health awareness and training among Jamaican children and teenagers between the ages of 10 and 19.

The mental health conference will be held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston on January 13.

In welcoming the conference as a wonderful initiative, British High Commissioner Judith Slater said it was especially important in light of the trauma endured by young people during the more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I know that in the UK (United Kingdom), that (COVID-19) worsened some of the mental health challenges that adolescents and our children faced and it impacted them more deeply than adults. Two years is such a long time in a young person’s life, and so an initiative like this is really important to try to help some of these people,” she noted.

Meanwhile, Janice Carby, sales manager of the Liguanea Club, noted that partnering on this project was consistent with its mandate of fostering a balanced lifestyle by promoting health and wellness, which it does by offering a wide array of sporting activities.

“It brings us immense pleasure to be part of this vital initiative focusing specifically on adolescent mental health. We see the importance of creating a more compassionate and understanding environment, where seeking help is encouraged and not discouraged. Let us embrace this opportunity to spark meaningful change and start committing to promoting mental well-being by building a future where mental health is valued, supported and prioritised,” Carby said.

Meanwhile, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said mental health has become more of an important part of public health in the broadest sense. He said this was due in large measure to the trauma resulting from the isolation, restrictions, loneliness, sickness, and death as a result of COVID-19.

For these reasons and given the lasting impact of the pandemic, the minister said, mental health has now taken on greater urgency.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com