Jamaica’s Ministry of Education, Youth and Information is looking to set up a 24-hour helpline that will provide support for children with mental health issues.
State Minister, Alando Terrelonge, who made the disclosure, said that the move is in keeping with the Government’s focus on promoting good mental health among the nation’s youth.
The helpline will be operated by the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA).
“There is somewhere between 10 and 20 per cent of the youth in Jamaica that are going through mental health issues”— State Minister, Alando Terrelonge
Mr. Terrelonge, who was addressing the CPFSA’s budget planning and quarterly performance review retreat at the Riu Hotel in Ocho Rios on Thursday (October 10), said that a large number of children with behavioural problems are afflicted by mental health conditions.
“A lot of them are suffering silently because they don’t know who to talk to.”— State Minister, Alando Terrelonge
“When I look at the statistics, when I look at the writings of the experts, it tells me squarely that there is somewhere between 10 and 20 per cent of the youth in Jamaica that are going through mental health issues,” Mr Terrelonge said.
“A lot of them are suffering silently because they don’t know who to talk to. If they tell a friend, if they tell a parent, if they tell a teacher, they have this innate fear that says ‘them a guh think seh mi mad’, because …every time they might express how they feel, they probably feel dejected,” he pointed out.
“As a priority, the CPFSA must ensure that we have a 24-hour youth helpline so that our children can call, so that our young persons can call at any time of the day to say ‘hey, this is what I am experiencing, this is what I am going through’,” he said.
CPFSA has been advised to formulate and draft the proposal for the helpline.