Video: Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month

May 2, 2022 | 0 Comments

Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month was officially launched today, which is “dedicated to children’s mental health awareness, prioritising Bermuda’s children’s mental health, sharing prevention methods and for us, identifying supportive partner agencies that can help our young people in recovery and healing.”

Mental Health Awareness Bermuda May 2 2022

Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute’s Vice President Clinical Operations and Acting COO Preston Swan said, “Thank you for coming to the Child & Adolescent Services department at MWI today to help us shine a light on children’s mental health this month. This is the first time we have officially launched a children’s mental health awareness month

“So I’m very pleased to welcome you here and introduce Kim Wilson, Minister of Health to launch the month, and also Vakita Basden, who is the Clinical Manager of Child & Adolescent Services and a Social Worker.”

Minister of Health Kim Wilson, said, “I am pleased to be here to launch Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month for Bermuda. There have been activities in May in previous years but no formal moment to create space to focus on this most crucial topic of mental health.

“The pandemic changed our lives in many ways. There was an increase in concerns about mental health and mental health awareness rose – not just in adults but also in our children.

“Now more than ever, we are aware of and concerned about our mental well-being – and the state of our children’s well-being.

“With this awareness and a better understanding of the issues, I hope that people concerned about their mental well-being seek help.

“So often, there is a feeling of shame and concerns about being treated differently, but we must get past that, and as a community, we must do our best to not look at anyone negatively who has a mental illness. I believe in the resilience and potential of our children and adolescents and the need for us as a community, as service providers and as Government to do all we can to help our young people.

“A report from UNICEF in October 2021, entitled ’The State of the World’s Children 2021; On My Mind: promoting, protecting and caring for children’s mental health’ highlighted that more than one in seven adolescents aged 10-19 is estimated to live with a diagnosed mental disorder, globally. The report also stated that almost 46,000 adolescents die from suicide each year. Suicide is the fifth most prevalent cause of death for this age group.

“The pandemic will not have made the situation easier for our young people. In Bermuda, our Child & Adolescent Services [CAS] team has seen increased referrals for eating disorders and increases in social-anxiety related symptoms and adjustment disorders. Overall, admissions to CAS are rising significantly. Twenty-five clients were admitted in 2019. Today in 2022, there have already been 39admissions.

“But, as always, there is hope, and the pandemic is only a part of our young people’s experience. UNICEF stresses that having loving caregivers, safe school environments, and positive peer relationships can protect children. Equally, however, exposure to violence or abuse, discrimination, poverty, and health emergencies such as Covid-19 can impact a child’s mental health throughout their lifetime.

“The theme for this year’s Children’s Mental Health Awareness month is ’Healing and growing together through APPS’, with APPS standing for Awareness, Prioritising, Prevention and Support. It highlights that we can assist our young people as families, communities, and service providers.

“We must improve our awareness of the needs of children who experience a mental illness or emotional challenge. All of us -parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, teachers – everyone in contact with young people. This means being alert to changes in behaviours or moods, whether disruptive or withdrawn.

“Once we have improved our awareness, we can move beyond understanding into acceptance and begin to dismantle the mental health stigma that leaves so many people suffering in silence.

“We need to prioritise meeting all our children’s mental and psychiatric health needs. About half of all mental health issues start by the age of 14; this is not a predicament that only adults experience.

“We can make a huge difference by focusing on prevention and creating safe environments that nurture well-being and resilience at home, school, and in our community.

“Support is provided through funding, through accessible, effective services, and within the families and schools of our young people.

“This is very much in line with the Bermuda Health Strategy’s core vision of healthy people in healthy communities. Just like physical illnesses, some mental illnesses can be prevented. And where they cannot be prevented, the protective factors of nurturing relationships and support will help our children cope, manage and reach their full potential.

“Awareness campaigns such as this one are important. They help people understand and look after their mental health. And awareness and understanding help reduce the stigma. As adults, if we embrace the fact that mental illnesses are no different from common physical illnesses, our children will also be far more comfortable discussing and sharing how they are feeling.

“The first step in reducing mental health stigma is providing accurate information about mental health disorders. This can include sharing straightforward facts about certain issues, like the symptoms of depression or anxiety.

“Parents, we can also help to  dispel myths about mental health to our children my provide helping them to understand that: Mental health disorders are treatable. When parents frame mental health disorders as treatable conditions, children can feel more hopeful about seeking treatment.

“Mental health is part of your overall health. Children know they need to see a doctor when they have an illness or injury. The same is true when they struggle with a mental health issue. Talking about mental health as part of their overall health helps remove any shame or embarrassment.

“So with that, I am so very delighted to join you today to launch Children’s Mental Health Awareness month,” the Minister concluded.

MWI’s Clinical Manager Child & Adolescent Services Vakita Basden said, “We wanted to have an official children’s mental health awareness month in Bermuda this year to bring community attention on the needs of our children and young people.

“This is a month not just for awareness in our adult population, but for our young people. This month is dedicated to children’s mental health awareness, prioritising Bermuda’s children’s mental health, sharing prevention methods and for us, identifying supportive partner agencies that can help our young people in recovery and healing.

“We know the pandemic’s disruption will have impacted our children, but this is not the only challenge young people have. Many of our social issues whether related to violence, abuse, poverty or drugs go way back, and sadly will likely outlast Covid-19. The needs of our young people need our attention.

“For this month of May, we will be handing out activity books this months to all our local primary schools, that include puzzles and games around the theme of mental health, including drawing mood faces to help our younger people communicate how they are feeling.

“We will also be hosting a Mental Wellness Fair on 26 May, inviting middle schools to bring groups of students to learning about mental health, about what helps us maintain our mental wellbeing and experiencing some fun activities, from games to pet therapy.

“Finally we will be asking schools to bring awareness within their school environment by holding a green grub day for children’s mental health. The green ribbon is the symbol for mental health and we hope the whole island will consider wearing a green ribbon or something green that day too.

“Whether we are parents or not, we each contribute to the environment in which children grow up and learn. The question is how each of us contribute to the communities in which we live and work. Kind words and gestures, offers of help, support and caring, thoughtfulness and understanding cost us nothing but create a world in which our children are helped to be resilient, kind, strong and able to reach their potential.”

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