Counsellor says mental health of students must be examined in new term
(FILE) Chief executive officer of the Supreme Counselling, Shawn Clarke
As adolescents and young children return to the classroom this September, a leading counsellor is calling on education officials to bring the mental health of students to the forefront in this upcoming school term.
Speaking to Loop News, chief executive officer of Supreme Counselling for Personal Development, Shawn Clarke, held that he anticipates increased cases of depression due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With schools operating virtually since April/May, Gibbs expressed concerns about the psychological effect the four-month pandemic will have on students.
"My concern is that coming out of COVID-19 or during COVID-19, we paid a lot of attention to the pandemic itself but we did not necessarily put enough resources, financial and otherwise towards the psychological impact and scars that can come about as a result of COVID-19.
"We did not take into consideration the mental torment that some children would have faced being shut in with abusive parents. We did not take into consideration the mental instability that children would have living in a household where domestic violence is an 'in-thing'. When schools were open children had the schools to run to so that was an almost like a safe haven . . . all of that would have been taken away," the Supreme Counselling CEO remarked.
While referring to cases of aggression by school-aged children towards adults and their peers, the counsellor stressed that educational officials needed to assess the mental trauma sustained to students during the shutdown.
"We cannot only have discussions about reopening schools physically and what it will look like in terms of social distancing, sanitising, the wearing of masks, we also have to look seriously at the psychological impact that COVID-19 would have had on our children.
"What will the classroom look like, what will the children reveal to the teachers in health and family life education?"
Clarke indicated that psychological trauma was manifesting itself via thoughts of suicide or aggression by children. He stated that these were "cries for help" and urged parents not to see psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors or social workers as the "enemy".
"We have young people on the island who are extremely depressed and they refuse to share their level of depression with anyone and this could be a result because in some cases you have parents who don’t believe that children should be depressed, who don’t believe that children have anything to be depressed about.
"In the Caribbean context, as soon as you hear psychologists what comes to mind? Mad. 'My child isn't mad, my child doesn't need a psychologist'. So this is time we change that context, we change that way of thinking and get the intervention that it is needed as early as possible to be able to remedy some of what is developing."