Teach kids about mental health, says advocacy group

Calls are being made for the topic of mental health to be taught in schools across Jamaica.

Some of these calls are coming from an organisation called Safe Space Jamaica, a mental health advocacy group. The members are looking into the idea based on a suggestion made recently by American actress and author Taraji Penda Henson. Henson, who studied acting at Howard University, is seen in a video posted on Safe Space Jamaica’s Instagram page calling on school officials to look at teaching the topic of mental health to students.

“If we can teach children about sex education and physical education, why not mental health? That’s where we start attacking this issue – with the children,” said Henson.

But a noted psychologist in Jamaica says he believes greater results would be reached if the topic of basic psychology was taught in educational institutions.

“Teaching about this topic would help children from a tender age to be aware of the issues surrounding mental health,” said Professor Federick Hickling, who currently works at the Caribbean Institute of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the University of the West Indies, Mona.

Earlier this year, it was reported that the suicide rate jumped by 30 per cent in Jamaica last year – moving from 47 deaths in 2017 to 61 in 2018. Medical experts said that many persons who committed suicide were suffering from some sort of depression or mental disorder.