Thursday 14 November, 2019

Mentally ill children ‘abandoned’ by education system

Reverend Connolly (right) during his presentation while Dr. June Price Humphrey looks on.

Reverend Connolly (right) during his presentation while Dr. June Price Humphrey looks on.

The education system is Barbados is ill-equipped to handle children who are presenting with mental health challenges and these ones are thrown to the wayside.

This is the view expressed by Reverend Enric Connolly of the New Testament Church of God as he and other professionals discussed the topic of ‘The Impact of Stigma on Mental Illness’ during a panel discussion on Thursday night. 

“Teachers are out of their depth dealing with a lot of children in the system. A lot of our children are being sidelined because teachers don’t have the requisite skills to deal with them so that child is either put outside the class, ignored and left literally to die."

Reverend Connolly told attendees there are many children who are showing early signs of being affected by mental illness and there are little to no interventions being offered to assist them.

“We are seeing it within our school system- too many of our children have serious mental health issues and our education system is not able to deal with it efficiently. Mental health does not get the kind of help and resources that is needed. From the data I’ve seen we spend about $30 to $35 million on mental health from our [Ministry of] Health budget in Barbados.”

He pointed the younger generation who desperately “need help” and stakeholders need to develop innovative ways to deal with are fighting mental health issues.

Reverend Connolly added these children who are labelled as difficult should not be “abandoned by the system” for problems that are treatable, adding “mental illness is not a death sentence”.

The panel discussion was a collaboration with the Psychiatric Hospital and the Insurance Company of Barbados Limited (ICBL) as part of the activities for Mental Health Awareness Month which is celebrated in October. 

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