UWI adds psycho-social experts to its COVID-19 Task Force

Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Professor Sir Hilary Beckles

Recognising the science associated with post-trauma stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of the West Indies (The UWI) has taken the additional step of establishing a special operational unit within its regional UWI COVID-19 Task Force.

The university notes that its students and staff are already showing evidence of extreme stress, driven by the radical, transformational and unprecedented actions within the teaching, learning and living culture of the institution.

To provide support in addressing these concerns, experts in the disciplines of psychology and psychiatry have been added to the task force.

“This development is consistent with global best practice which shows that lasting and damaging consequences can be associated with such deep-rooted disruption that creates unimaginable insecurity in some. The mental aspects are as important as the material and social dimension,” Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles stated.

The four new experts on the task force are Professor Wendel Abel, Professor of Mental Health Policy, Consultant Psychiatrist/Public Health, and Head of the Department of Community Health & Psychiatry at The UWI Mona Campus; Dr. Katija Khan, Clinical Psychologist and Lecturer in Clinical Psychology in the Department of Clinical Medical Sciences at the UWI St. Augustine Campus; Ceceile Minott, trained Counsellor, Director of the Consortium for Social Development & Research at the UWI Open Campus and Head of its Caribbean Child Development Centre; and Professor Donna-Maria B. Maynard, Professor of Psychology, Clinical & Counselling Psychology and Registered Psychologist at the UWI Cave Hill Campus.

Together they will function as a new pyscho-social unit within the task force, and will interact with campus management teams to help extend counselling services to students and staff, predominantly via distance counselling.