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How to better measuring mental health in young people Print E-mail
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Friday, 14 June 2019 00:00

The Ministry of Health, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and other partners held a launch of two initiatives which focus on measuring mental health among adolescents and helping them to thrive. The first initiative validates and adapts a tool that will be used to access the population prevalence of various mental disorders including depression, anxiety, suicide, and self-harm. That tool will be adapted to conform to Belize’s situation and perspective and will involve a methodological review in which focus groups will be part of.

Kim Simplis-Barrow, Special Envoy for Women & Children, says that given the two most recent incidents in which a mentally ill person inflicted harm on persons, the discussion is pertinent. “Instances like these further reiterate the need for us to stay educated on mental illness, how to maneuver and work alongside patients, the variation of mental illness, signs, and symptoms.  We need to do better as a society.  The way we treat our most vulnerable is a reflection of us as a country.”

That conversation now continues with the introductions of two studies, a Measurement of Mental Health among Adolescents at the Population Level and Helping Adolescents Thrive and will both focus on adolescents between the ages of ten and nineteen. Dr. Susan Kasedde, UNICEF Country Representative, says that over the past four to five years, studies have shown that more and more adolescents in that age range are struggling with severe mental health challenges. “The number of attempted suicides in adolescents age fifteen to nineteen has more than doubled in a very short space of time.”