Students suffering trauma getting attention from stakeholders
Solutions to offer help to children who suffer trauma owing to violence and other circumstances were discussed during a mental health conference at The Mico University College in Kingston on Wednesday.
The conference was organised by the Department of Psychology, Counselling and Allied Services at Mico. The theme for the event was 'Retooling for Relevance: Treating with Trauma in Schools'. Wednesday was observed as World Mental Health Day.
In a Gleaner interview, Dr Asburn Pinnock, the president of Mico, pointed out that Jamaican children had been traumatised heavily by crime, violence, and other factors, but had limited avenues to turn to for help.
"The issue of trauma in schools in Jamaica is well known. It is not isolated from the community. Whatever happens in the community affects people in school. The students are part and parcel of the community. They are not immune. We see it whenever loved ones are lost or even schoolmates. We really need persons trained to deal with these students to get them back in the mainstream learning," he said.
Pinnock said that the work Mico was doing to develop a structured system locally to help youth suffering from trauma would work in tandem with input from the Government.
He also pointed out that the problem was not unique to Jamaica. "One of the things we are trying to do is provide good research data for the Ministry of Education, in particular, as to how they can help the nation fix [the problem]. We also provide professional development for teachers and parents."
The Ministry of Education opened two centres in September where traumatised students can get assistance.
Dr Kasan Troupe, the regional director responsible for Region One in the Ministry of Education, said that children were traumatised by crime, the sudden death of family members, and the loss of a fellow student at school.
She said that the ministry had established a trauma response team. "That team goes out to all schools [to meet with] principals or guidance counsellors to assist the team at the school to treat with the emotional responses of our children. If our children are unable to cope, they will be unable to focus on any kind of future learning experience."