Teachers undergo training to tackle mental health issues in schools

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Some 13 teachers from schools within Region Four (Demerar-Mahaica) are being trained to deal with mental health issues that may be affecting their students.

These teachers are the first to be trained in this new programme developed by the Ministries of Public Health and Education.

The academic professionals will be trained over a two-day period at the Mental Health Unit, Quamina Street, Georgetown.

In Guyana 13-15% of mental health issues affect adolescences.

As such, the Ministries aim is to help teachers recognize children who may be having suffering from suicidal thoughts or depression.

Director of the Mental Health Unit, Dr Util Richmond-Thomas said that the importance of Guyana’s children and adolescents cannot be overemphasised.

“We literally depend on their mental and physical strength and resilience, their knowledge, their judgement, loyalties and wisdom to help us to achieve our dreams and vision and that of our families’ communities” Dr Richmond-Thomas said.

Mental health problems affect around one in four people in any given year. They range from common problems, such as depression and anxiety, to rarer problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Stigma and discrimination attached to these mental health issues prevent persons from seeking help.

As such Dr Richmond-Thomas noted that the training of the teachers is strategic and necessary at this time in Guyana.

“We feel confident to invite referrals from the Ministry of Education as enough capacity have been built on the ground to start addressing the mental health needs of our young people in primary health care” she informed.

The programme will eventually be rolled out to target teachers from each administrative regions in Guyana.