Mental health should be in the Guyana Youth Service curriculum

Dear Editor,

The media recently reported on the consolidation of key youth programmes and organizations into the Guyana Youth Service (GYS) and the subsequent offering of a standardised education and training curriculum as measures to significantly improve youths’ marketability and prospects for gainful employment. The Caribbean Voice once again urges that this is a perfect opportunity for the standardized curriculum to include modules on mental health.

This is a critical imperative given that in Guyana, among other things, the 15 to 25 age group has the highest suicide rate in Guyana, and subject themselves and/or are subjected to significant abuse including increasing alcohol and drug use, involvement in gangs, a propensity for violent behaviour and physical and sexual abuse.

In effect many Guyanese in general and youth especially, struggle with self esteem and self confidence; lack enduring coping skills and a capacity to deal with challenges and stress, all of which are important traits that foster personal advancement, the ability to manoeuvre in the market place and the drive for increasing success in the workplace. Such attributes also arm individuals with the wherewithal to resist impulses that can lead to self-harm, depression, anxiety, and pathological and anti-social behaviour.

The bottom line is that without the tools to foster mental health and well-being, all the training in the world can end up being an exercise in futility. And adding relevant mental modules in the current training curriculum – self esteem, coping skills, emphatic communication, anxiety and depression, suicide and abuse – will ensure that the campaign to significantly improve youths’ marketability and prospects for gainful employment attain significant success. Besides, this kind of piggybacking is tremendously more cost effective than separate mental health training, not to mention more far reaching as well.

Yours faithfully,

Annan Boodram

The Caribbean Voice

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