Fifteen “community mental health champions” have been trained to respond to mental health issues in Tobago at a workshop last week, hosted by the Lily Foundation for Human Development (LFHD) in collaboration with the British High Commission, at the Scarborough Library.
Health Secretary Dr Agatha Carrington, noting that “mental health issues affect productivity, employment and some persons are at risk of suicides,” said persons do not access care because of several challenges including stigma.
“Despite our challenges, our systems need to be strengthened so that persons are comfortable to access care for mental health issues,” she said as she encouraged the trainees to share the information they learnt with others “because we all must work together to encourage good mental health.”
Carrington commended the Lily Foundation on the initiative and committed to working with them on such future initiatives.
Beatrice Rose, Head, Political and Economic Team at the British High Commission, in noting the Mission’s interest in collaborating with the Lily Foundation to train community mental health champions, said “mental health is overlooked and too many people suffered worldwide.”
She added “2.8% of the Government’s budget is spent to treat mental health persons, which is a lot, thus why there is a heavy focus on mental health.” She explained that the British Government aims to raise awareness in communities about the importance of mental health, encourage good mental health and train persons to be first responders to mental health issues. She further explained that once a sufficient number of persons were trained in several communities, there will be a better cadre of persons equipped to appropriately respond to mental health issues in communities.
The training was facilitated by Michael Hamilton, a UK-based international consultant in leadership, coaching and change-development, who has successfully implemented management, personal development and leadership programmes in Europe, Africa, South America, the Caribbean and Asia.
Hamilton has spent over 30 years engaging in coaching, counselling, youth work, and community development and more than 20 years as a public health practitioner.
The Community Mental Health Champions Course was designed for persons to be mental health first responders in their communities
The Lily Foundation for Human Development is a non-profit organisation, which seeks to facilitate the personal and general growth and development of individuals, particularly students and school aged children/youth, through the provision of opportunities or access to opportunities that allow for and promote such growth and development, particularly education.