St. James Graduates Psychological First Aid Services Providers

A cohort of community and frontline services providers across St. James graduated from a psychological first aid training held at the S Hotel in Montego Bay on Friday, January 27.

The training was spearheaded under a joint-initiative by the Citizen Security Secretariat, which falls under the Ministry of National Security, and the European Union, who trained the 20 men and women to be first responders to trauma caused by violence and other mental issues in inner-city communities.

These first responders are based in organizations and agencies such as Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Health and Wellness, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), schools, community clubs and more.

They underwent weeks of training using a Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) mental health training guideline to spot areas of mental health issues in persons and refer them to the appropriate bodies for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Dr. Horace Chang, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, who attended the graduation ceremony, signals a new direction in how Jamaica address trauma as well as reduce levels of distress caused by traumatic events in communities.

“This is a first step towards fulfilling that recommendation where we are investing in the social and emotional needs of our people; a priority for the government,” Dr. Chang stated, who is also the Member of Parliament for St. James North Western.

“It is in these communities where children are exposed to the trauma of criminal violence from an early age, and where families have had to adopt strategies to ensure the safety and survival. This type of [psychological first aid] training is critical,” he added.

Dr. Chang lauded graduates on their successful completion of their training while noting that he is confident their contribution will no doubt have an effect in reducing violent crimes in St. James and by extension, Jamaica.

“Through all your efforts, you will help to break the cycle of violence by identifying individuals in need, listening and linking them support services,” the Minister pointed out.

Aniceto Rodriguez Ruiz, Head of the Cooperation of the European Union to Jamaica, praised the success of the initiative as well as the continued partnership with Jamaica.

“With the day-to-day coordination of the Citizen Security Secretariat of the Ministry of National Security, and with the support of our European Union Technical Assistance Team, this programme strongly supports all of governments and all of society to crime and violence,” he indicated.

The parish of Westmoreland and Kingston are among the next target for the programme.

Alan Lewin

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