Kingston, Jamaica (JIS) – The Child Development Agency (CDA) received a Mobile Mental Health Unit on Friday (April 7), ‘Smile Mobile’, from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
It has been provided under the Transitional Living Programme for Children in State Care (TLP-CSC) Project.
Retrofitted with two counselling areas, Wi-Fi service, air conditioning, a refrigerator, sink and cabinets, the mobile health unit will play a significant role in strengthening the capacity of the CDA to respond to the needs of youth who have been traumatised by various acts of violence and abuse.
Two 15- Seater Buses
The handover ceremony was held at the Alpha Institute in Kingston. Also presented to the CDA were two 15-seater buses, which will meet the transportation needs of children in State care in the southern and western regions of the island.
The Mobile Mental Health Unit, along with one of the buses, will serve the parishes of Clarendon, St. Elizabeth and Manchester in the southern region, while the second bus will serve the parishes of Trelawny, St. James, Westmoreland and Hanover in the west.
Addressing the ceremony, Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, said the handover of the units is timely, as it coincides with the upcoming World Mental Health Day, observed annually on October 10 to raise awareness of the debilitating effects of mental illness.
“This initiative is very important, particularly for our vulnerable groups that really need this kind of care,” he said.
He also encouraged persons who struggle with this ailment to seek professional help.
Meanwhile, Mission Director for the USAID in Jamaica, Maura Barry Boyle, commended the CDA for their work in treating with the psychological trauma among youth in State care.
She reiterated the USAID’s commitment to provide support for the children impacted by the project.
“Youth transitioning out of State care must be prepared for independent living and, in doing so, be empowered to achieve their full potential and make meaningful contributions to the wider society,” the USAID Director said.
Chief Executive Officer of the CDA, Rosalee Gage-Grey, said the project arose out of the need to mobilise services to provide rapid and consistent psychological interventions to counteract the effect of trauma on the children.
“To effectively treat a child that has been traumatised takes many hours of intervention, and early in the life of the CDA, we saw the need for a unit that would do just that. This intervention has had a significant impact on the lives of our children,” she said.
The TLP-CSC is a six-year project that aims to equip youth in State care with life and vocational skills training, mentoring and providing safe and appropriate transitional living facilities for this group.
The donation is part of the TLP-CSC project, which is being implemented by the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus in partnership with the CDA. It is funded by the USAID.