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“Mental Health Literacy”

Research has shown that at least one out of every five persons will experience some form of mental illness in the prime of their lives.  However, it is believed that with early detection it can be treated and persons can go on to lead normal lives. In this regard, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is conducting a training of trainers program where Nurse Practitioners and School Management are being trained in Mental Health Literacy. Love news stopped by and spoke with Eleanor Bennett, the Coordinator of Mental Health Programmes, at the Ministry of Health who said that the training will help teachers identify mental health problems in adolescents.

Eleanor Bennett, the Coordinator of Health Programmes, Ministry of Health:  “Mental Health Literacy is teaching people how to recognize signs of bad and good mental health and after they have recognized those signs they can seek or send people towards the appropriate type of treatment and so we want to make sure that teachers have the skill, especially high school teachers have the skill. It  is important because a large percentage of the mental health illnesses begin during adolescent years and these are the years that people are in high schools.”

Love news also spoke with Dr. Jorge Polanco, the Focal Point for Mental Health at PAHO, who said that it is from an early age that children begin to suffer from situations that can lead to mental disorder and the challenge is to pick it up in a very timely manner.

Dr. Jorge Polanco – Focal Point for Mental Health, PAHO: “The idea is that we consider that this program should be able to assist in the curriculum in the day to day teachings of the teachers in addressing and being able to identify in a very timely manner signs and symptoms in children that would need help for their mental wellness and for their mental state of mind. So the project right now is a three day training basically to train trainers. The plan is that as early as the first semester of next year 2019 the implementation will begin in the sense that more teachers will be trained by this core group. The idea is for them to learn all the skills they need to be able to detect ,as I said earlier in a very timely manner, what we might call subtle or insignificant problems/behavioral problems that if not detected in that timely manner and managed in an integrated manner could end up in a more I wouldn’t say severe state, but it could complicate their mental wellness.

Dr. Polanco added that PAHO will continue to provide assistance by seeing the plan implemented early next year.