Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Letter of the Day | Put youth mental health on front burner

Published:Monday | August 20, 2018 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

On August 14, 2018, U-Report tweeted its findings from a survey exploring the issue of suicide within the youth population. U- Report is a social-messaging platform that gives young people a voice on issues that matter to them. They have more than 3,000 U-Reporters.

The most salient points from the survey were:

- 53 per cent of U-Reporters have contemplated suicide.

- 31 per cent attempted suicide under the age of 25.

- 65 per cent believe the ages 15-19 are most at risk.

- 91 per cent do not believe Jamaicans take the mental health of young people seriously.

The data show us what we already know: mental health is on the sidelines.

 

DEFINING HEALTH

 

The World Health Organization defines health as a "state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity".

Mental health just isn't taken seriously in Jamaica. It can range from anxiety and depression to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and is not a synonym for crazy.

Children and adolescents may have several mental health issues but are often ignored, as they are young and cannot have problems. We tend to surmise that a child who is acting up just wants attention, or if he or she acts differently, is 'a little funny'.

 

Help and Support

 

That being said, I encourage everyone who interacts with children and adolescents to play an active role in opening their eyes to the mental health problems our younger peers may face and offer them help and support.

As a country, we must start looking at our children and seeing them as people who can experience stresses and challenges just as we adults can.

Not only must we see them, but we must hear and listen to them. Good mental health is a crucial aspect of living a healthy life. Ignoring that our youth are affected is naive and does more harm than good.

SAMANTHA C.JOHNSON

samanthachrisj@gmail.com