One hundred and nineteen community members from churches, civic groups and community-based organisations have been trained in the Problem Management Plus (PM+) intervention.
The programme is part of the continued collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Ministry. It provides participants with basic tools for counselling and psycho-social support.
The announcement was made by Dr. Christopher Tufton, minister of health and wellness during his presentation in the 2023/24 Sectoral Presentation today (May 3).
“This year, the intention is to conduct ongoing recruitment and training of supervisors to provide services to more communities. The goal is to meet a target of 180 providers and 30 supervisors,” said the minister.
Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Helpline
Tufton said that COVID 19 has shown everyone how fragile life is noting that “over three thousand five hundred deaths and thousands more are suffering from post-COVID trauma”.
He added that mental health disorders have been a major side effect of the COVID experience stating that in 2019, the Ministry established the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Helpline that has shown significant usage since its inception.
Since 2019, “a total of 4,726 calls have been managed by our team of psychologists. For the year 2022, the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Helpline received a total of 2,190 calls, an increase of 24 per cent (542 calls) when compared to the 1,648 calls reported for the year ending 2021. Already this year, we have received more than 577 calls to the helpline,” he said.
Engagement of educational institutions
Tufton shared that in an effort to “engage youth who have suffered tremendous trauma from COVID, we have partnered with United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to implement the U-MATTER Mental Health Chatline, which has conducted more than 2,000 counselling sessions, treating issues such as suicidal ideation, anxiety, depression, stress, and mood disorders”.
The minister spoke about the MoHW partnership with the Ministry of Education and Youth to address the mental health challenges by strengthening capacities within educational institutions. He said that 531 school personnel have been trained in the following:
1) Understanding how to optimise and maintain good mental health;
2) Understanding mental disorders and their treatments;
3) Decreasing stigma; and
4) Enhancing help-seeking efficacy, which is knowing when and where to get help and having the skills necessary to promote self-care and how to obtain good care.
“Additionally, I have appointed Senator, Dr. Saphire Longmore to work along with the mental health team in the Ministry to strengthen and enhance the school engagement programme. Through this joint programme, the Ministry will be engaging at least 50 additional schools as part of the ‘Do Your Share’ campaign, which prioritises, among other things, the creation of safe spaces for young people who may be experiencing mental health challenges,” he said.
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