Bid to help youth cope with trauma

School counsellors must be better trained to assist students to deal with the increasing traumas they face.

Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Mark Franklin made that point while stating that children were confronted with more stressors caused by traumatic events.

“We recognise that our children and young people are under constant, continuous and unrelenting stress. They continue to be assailed by various types of abuse, exposure to violence, close proximity to dangerous, behaviour-altering illegal drugs, heavy exposure to illicit sexual content on the Internet, death of loved ones, divorce or separation of parents, bullying and the list goes on.

“When combined with the increasing presence and impact of social media, these issues are exacerbated and further have adverse effects on young, impressionable minds that are still in the developmental stage,” Franklin said.

He was speaking during the opening of a Trauma-Informed Care Workshop at the 3Ws Oval, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, on Wednesday.

The Child Care Board (CCB) and the Barbados Public Workers’ Cooperative Credit Limited organised the event.

Franklin cited information from the World Health Organisation (WHO, 2021) which stated that exposure to trauma can make adolescents vulnerable to mental health problems, and information from the National Centre for Post Trauma Stress Disorder (2022) in the United States.

The centre published a study which showed in America, 15 to 43 per cent of girls and 14 to 43 per cent of boys experienced at least one traumatic event. Of these children, three to 15 per cent of girls and one to six per cent of boys develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

“If left untreated, both sexes are at increased risk for entertaining suicidal thoughts and are more likely to develop a mental health disorder. The picture that these statistics paint is that untreated traumatic stress that occurs in children’s lives will create a threat to their future well-being if left untreated. Children experience various forms of trauma throughout their developing years which impact their development. Trauma usually has long-lasting effects and disrupts children’s development, including their education.

“It is therefore very important that our counsellors and specialists within the school settings are trauma-informed so that they can tailor interventions that will greatly improve the well-being of adolescents who experience trauma. It also allows them to engage in psycho-education with their peers as well as students so that children are not re-traumatised. This results in a better outcome for both students and staff,” Franklin said.

Chief human resource officer at the credit union Jacqueline Caesar said they were pleased to support the workshop.

“Today we see our support as an investment in our society and the economy as we build relations and partner with the CCB. We look forward to the youth being the main benefactors of such training that is sure to catapult their overall socialisation on a critical path to success,” Caesar said.

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