The World Health Organization (WHO) describes mental health as a “state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community,” (1). Optimal mental health is critical for general health and wellbeing – however, many in the Caribbean, particularly children and youth are facing mental health challenges. The State of the World’s Children 2021 report revealed that approximately 16 million adolescents aged 10-19 live with a mental disorder in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) (1). Anxiety Disorder is the second leading cause of disability among 10- to-14-year-olds (2).
The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the mental health crisis facing children and young people, leaving many feeling anxious and vulnerable.
To tackle this issue, NCD Child Young Leader, Stephanie Whiteman, collaborated with NCD Child and Healthy Caribbean Youth, the youth arm of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC), to launch the ‘Caribbean Youth Mental Health Call to Action‘ project. Developed by youth across the Caribbean and led by the Healthy Caribbean Youth group, the call to action outlines key asks from youth across the region and advocates on behalf of Caribbean young people and children who have found themselves unsupported and suffering in silence. This campaign calls on policy makers , civil society, youth, development agencies and academia across the Caribbean to protect the mental health of children and young people across the region.
- Collaborate with key stakeholders across the Caribbean to revise and tailor the call to action to the relevant stakeholder audiences
- Bring awareness of the ‘Caribbean Youth Mental Health Call to Action’ across the Caribbean region
- Have commitment from the key stakeholders to one initiative six months after the launch of the call to action
Call to Action
On World Mental Health Day, the ‘Caribbean Youth Mental Health Call to Action’ was officially launched to mobilize regional stakeholders to prioritize the mental health and well-being for the children and young people in the Caribbean region. The call to action represents a culmination of months of collaborative effort among regional youth and youth organizations.
The call to action identifies four key priority areas for protecting children and young people’s mental health:
- Regulations and policies
Join the commitment to prioritize, de-stigmatize and normalize mental health among Caribbean children and young people by reading and signing onto the Caribbean Youth Mental Health Pledge and the call to action.
- WHO, “Mental health: strengthening our response,” March 30, 2018.https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response.
- UNICEF, “On my mind: Promoting, protecting, and caring for children’s mental health,” October2021.https://www.unicef.org/media/108126/file/SOWC-2021-Latin-America-and-the-Caribbean-regional-brief.pdf.