With mental health reform on the cards, it is hoped that children would be treated in their community, at polyclinics, instead of having to be referred to the Psychiatric Hospital at Black Rock.

Nursing Sister, Althea Clarke, told this to a number of school children today as they toured the institution during its Open Day in recognition of World Mental Health Day.

She said: “Before, lots of people never realised that children had mental health, issues and some times your teachers are the first to notice problems of mental illness … sometimes they don’t understand and don’t pick up these problems and most of these children are labeled as bad behaved.

“Unfortunately, as they [the children] grow older, you find they are before the court and end up at the Government Industrial School. What we are hoping, with mental health reform, is that there would be a facility for the adolescents – children between11 and 18, and that they would be able to be treated in the community setting, as opposed to the hospital.”

Explaining that for some the hospital brings a ‘stigma’, she said, “If children are seen within the community, within the general primary facility, it makes it easier for the parents and the children – psychologically, they wouldn’t have to deal with the trauma of people pointing fingers at them.”

The students were also told of a number of ways to deal with stress and anger, including relaxation, cycling, swimming, going to the movies, reading and talking to friends. Ms. Clarke said it was important as a people “to embrace the concept of mental illness and mental health and seek treatment early.”

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