#DoYourShare Campaign to promote expansion of mental health safe spaces

THE #DoYourShare Campaign, which promotes the expansion of safe spaces to support mental health, was officially unveiled on Monday.

This campaign provides a platform for people to share their stories and experiences with mental health disorders, as well as access resources while reducing stigma.

The unveiling of the campaign, which coincides with the observation of World Mental Health Day 2022, was held at the Convent of Mercy Academy “Alpha”, South Camp Road in Kingston.

During the launch, a wellness bench was unveiled at the institution. The campaign is being undertaken collaboratively among the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the Ministry of Education and Youth.

Addressing the launch, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton urged students and Jamaicans to find their safe space, noting that the promotion of mental wellness is critical and will enable them to be the best versions of themselves.

“Your safe space has to be defined by you…It is where you can go and find a sense of comfort, where you can go and manage your issues, where you can go and think through how you’re going to deal with problems bothering your brain,” he said.

Dr Tufton explained that the unveiling of the bench is geared toward designating a safe space within the institution where the students can talk openly and seek help.

PAHO/WHO representative, Jamaica, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, Ian Stein said his organisation is delighted to support campaigns that promote and support mental wellness.

“The health of a nation is the wealth of a nation, and there is no health without mental health,” he said.

Deputy representative, UNICEF, Vicente Teran noted that across the world the mental health of children and adolescents is a matter of high priority.

“That’s the reason UNICEF is leading a call for increased investments to ensure that children and adolescents have the support they need to transition into adulthood in a healthy way,” he said.

Teran noted that data from UNICEF’s 2021 State of the World’s Children on Mental Health indicate that more than 30 per cent of adolescents worldwide live with a diagnosed mental disorder.

“This proportion is even higher in Jamaica, where it goes up to 16.5 per cent,” he added.

Teran said across the world the most widespread mental health conditions are symptoms of anxiety and depression with rates increasing dramatically for adolescents, particularly among girls.

“This does not mean that boys are not affected, quite the contrary. In fact, boys in Jamaica have indicated that it is difficult to confide their mental health issues with anyone because that goes against community norms around their masculinity,” he noted.

Teran said he is pleased with the partnership between UNICEF and the Ministry of Health to increase access to mental health for children and adolescents, noting that the organisation stands ready to collaborate even more.

He encouraged students to become ambassadors for mental health and to reach out if they themselves need support.

Senior education officer, Guidance and Counselling Unit, Ministry of Education and Youth, Region One, Tamika McCreath said improved mental health and wellness must be prioritised.

The campaign aims to create public awareness about mental wellness, support services, and safe spaces; inspire positive health-seeking behaviour among members of the population about their wellness; and reduce the stigma and discrimination around mental ill health.

Recognised annually, World Mental Health Day is being observed under the theme ‘Make Mental Health and Well-being for all a Global Priority’.

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