Caricom mental health survey targets the youth

A mental health sigh
A mental health sign (Photo credit: Polina Zimmerman)

In hopes of accurately assessing the mental wellbeing of young people, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has created a mental health survey. The CARICOM Secretariat shared that the survey is aimed at targeting youths between ages 10 and 29 years as it gathers information about their mental state, health, happiness and comfort, indicators of depression and their support systems to handle challenges on Wednesday 18 May 2022.

According to the deputy programme manager for youth development at the CARICOM Secretariat, Michele Small Bartley, “the survey findings will inform the development and implementation of a mental health first aid programme.  Youth workers from across the region will be trained as first responders to identify the signs and symptoms of psychological or emotional issues that young people may experience”.

Mental health is the emotional, psychological, and social well-being of an individal. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps to determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices notes the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Travis Baker (not his real name), a 22-year-old university student, thinks that after the information from the survey is collected, the different Caribbean countries will know how to handle mental illnesses. “It is a very good initiative that will allow better programmes to deal with the mental health issues affecting young people like myself and I think these issues have increased over the period of the pandemic,” he said.

Also, data from the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2020 showed that one in every six youth ages 10 to 19 years experiences mental illness said Small Bartley. According to WHO, suicide is the third-leading cause of death among young people within the same age range, while homicides and road fatalities are the first and second, respectively.

Findings from a United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) survey revealed high levels of depression, anxiety, and lack of motivation among youth in Latin American and Caribbean region. Brianna Richards (not her real name) thinks that suicide becomes an option for people when they think there is no one to help them, so they remain hopeless.

The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) notes that some warning signs of suicide include a stressful life, previous suicide attempts, increased substance abuse and isolation. The organization encourages parents, teachers, health workers and youth to identify the signs and seek help. “CARICOM, against the concern that the adverse social and economic conditions to which youth are exposed may impact their mental health status, recognised the immediate need to assist member states in establishing supporting mechanisms to address mental health issues among youth,” said Small Bartley.


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