EU to help Ja establish paediatric clinic for violence-related mental trauma
DR ELIZABETH Ward, a member of the European Union (EU) technical assistance team looking at crime prevention in Jamaica, has indicated that plans are being finalised to establish a child-adolescent guidance clinic to help treat and reduce violence-related trauma.
“This is part of a bigger plan,” Ward told The Gleaner, noting that the location for the clinic has not yet been decided.
Last Friday, the first cohort of 15 front-line community members and service providers trained in psychological first aid in St James were presented with their certificates during a graduation ceremony.
The 12-hour training was provided as part of technical assistance funded by the EU, in collaboration with the Ministry of National Security.
It was developed by the Pan American Health Organization and adapted to the Jamaican context by the EU’s technical assistance team, equipping community leaders with strategies to effectively work towards breaking the cycle of violence in St James. They will now be able to identify people who are in need in their communities, promote physical and mental recovery from trauma, as well as listen to and link people to long-term support services.
“We are here (St James) because of the data, which showed us there was a large burden of trauma and there were not a lot of service providers that were available to respond,” Ward explained, noting the rationale behind St James being selected as the first parish to benefit from the initiative.
She revealed that Westmoreland will next be targeted.
While Ward did not reveal the actual data, she said that the situation in which children and adolescents have found themselves was dire.
“It’s a grappling situation and it’s changing in nature,” said Ward, who also chairs the Violence Prevention Alliance – Jamaica.
“Since the pandemic, we have seen more violence going into the homes, we have seen more violence being displayed among schoolchildren, so you have to use the data and the right skills to provide the right treatment, then to measure whether you have been able to make a change in the lives of our communities,” she explained.
Ward touted the benefits of the psychological first-aid training to community representatives as it allows for constant on-the-ground monitoring and engagement as they work towards breaking the cycle of violence.
“They are now equipped to deal with the issues of trauma, self-care and also to do referrals because these community members are not professionals, but they are able now to be sharing, guiding, and helping the community become a safer space and more involved,” she explained.
Ward noted that unlike violence interrupters, who are equipped to disrupt existing conflicts, psychological first-aid responders are trained to deal with the trauma and that is psychologically related, so they try to intervene at an earlier stage.