A new initiative to place youth at the centre of advocating for their mental health has been launched across 17 Caribbean territories.
Young journalist Nianna St. Claire has been appointed at the focal point for Montserrat in the new partnership between UNICEF and the youth-led regional mental health advocacy organisation Let’s Unpack It (LUI).
According to UNICEF, the Caribbean Youth National Mental Health Focal Point Network will help to design and implement initiatives and campaigns around mental health and wellness; represent the opinions of Caribbean youth at regional and international meetings, conferences, and symposia; and help to mobilize other children and youth to end the stigma and prioritize mental health and wellness. Each country’s focal point will also benefit from training, career development and opportunities to participate in regional and international efforts.
Currently, UNICEF in collaboration with the CARICOM Secretariat is spearheading a comprehensive survey to better understand the mental health status of young people across the Caribbean.
The survey is targeted at youth 10 to 29-years-old –> https://docs.google.com/…/1FAIpQLSeC4nTjdWQ1zA…/viewform
UNICEF Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Specialist Bertrand Moses revealed that while the Eastern Caribbean Area office provided technical guidance, the views of children and young people, facilitated through LUI, took precedence in the program’s development, design, and implementation. UNICEF has also committed to providing capacity building, certified training, and mentorship to youth advocates, he disclosed.
St. Claire is currently in Barbados attending the first advocacy workshop, led by UNICEF.
The advocates between the ages of 15 and 24 will be expected to attend monthly committee meetings, implement youth mental health programmes in their countries, and mobilize young people to play an active role in prioritizing child and youth mental health and wellness. They will serve for two years and can reapply after their tenure.
“I firmly believe that together we can build a world where every young person can enjoy their right to the highest attainable standard of mental health,” declared LUI president and founder David Johnson.
Emily Anna Bachan is one of two focal points appointed in Trinidad and Tobago who recently called for psychosocial support services to be made available to all citizens.
“Mental health is a universal human right,” said Bachan in an Instagram post on World Mental Health Day.
“That means broadening awareness and psychoeducation, facilitating safe and open non-judgmental conversations about mental health. It’s also about eliminating the stigma and breaking the barriers to accessing high-quality mental health services.”