Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh has said in its continued effort to make mental health services accessible to as many people as possible, the government now has a crisis support directory, called FindcareTT.
Deyalsingh was speaking at the second virtual National Health Research Conference on Thursday.
“We took a decision years ago to decentralise mental health,” he said. “In part of our decentralisation, we have come up with a concept where we have 30 agencies under one heading: FindcareTT.”
He said through this website, visitors can access 24/7 hotlines and several other mental-health service providers, including all the regional health authorities, Children’s Authority, the police, Lifeline, various ministries and universities.
Its website says, “Findcarett.com is the Directory of MHPSS Services delivered by the Technical Working Group of the Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support Network of TT which was activated in 2020 in response to the covid19 pandemic.
“The directory was developed by Technical Working Group member Mindwise Project, fulfilling one of the objectives of the plan for the group.”
Chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard University Prof David R Williams said research has shown the pandemic has added additional stressful life experiences for communities around the world, particularly adolescents.
“We live in an age of high and ever-increasing levels of stressful life experiences in multiple domains of life that can adversely affect mental health."
He said populations around the world are dealing with traumatic events, financial stressors and relationship and environmental stressors, in addition to unprecedented levels of stress linked to social media.
“Research shows that social have a big toll on young people’s mental health. Research finds as hours per day increase on smart phones, happiness, life satisfaction and self-esteem fall. Increased screen time is also linked to less sleep and increasing thoughts of suicide.”
He said a recent study looked at young people in 37 countries between 2000-2018 and showed there has been an increase of feelings of loneliness, with twice as many adolescents who say they feel lonely.
He said the trend started in 2012, which coincided with a steep increase in the use of smartphones and internet access globally.
He said socially and economically vulnerable populations are likely to experience more trauma, leading to more emotional and physical symptoms.
He said a few strategies to improve mental health include establishing a routine; taking breaks from the news; having a trusted adult to talk to; cultivating an attitude of gratitude; regular exercise; and getting the right amount of sleep.
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