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Cayman Kids Helpline launched

Local News 19 Feb, 2024 Follow News

Emily Kelly

Mirabelle D’Cunha

Dr Chantal Basson

Dr Stephanie Edwards

Dr Tonya Holder

The Alex Panton Foundation’s Youth Mental Health Symposium, which took place last Saturday, was the perfect event at which to launch a dedicated resource aimed at providing vital support and assistance to young people and their families facing various challenges.

The Cayman Kids Helpline was launched in response to the growing need for accessible information and confidential support for children, teenagers, and their carers, they said.

Jane Panton, Chair of the Alex Panton Foundation confirmed: “Our Foundation recognised the importance of providing free and confidential services to youth, their parents, and other adults advocating for youth who needed help finding referral information or resources, or just needed someone to talk to.”

Mrs Panton said their goal was to provide support and information to help the community keep children safe, and this would include giving advice on children’s mental health, and providing support for parents and educators in helping them understand what to do if they were worried about a child.

The Cayman Kids Helpline is accessible via a website, app, phone and live online text service.

Emily Kelly, Programme Manager, Alex Panton Foundation, said the Kids Helpline launched with the website and app which were now live, and the phoneline and textline would commence service Thursday, 7 March 2024.

“The phoneline and textline will open Thursday to Sunday, 3pm – 9pm, and will be staffed with trained volunteers who are ready to offer a compassionate ear, guidance and assistance to young people dealing with issues such as bullying, loneliness, academic stress, family relationships, and any other concerns affecting their wellbeing,” she said.

Dr Erica Lam, Executive member, Alex Panton Foundation said the organisation had worked with local mental health professionals to create the Kids Helpline website and app content.

“The Kids Helpline website and app hosts tips, information and advice on a range of topics and situations such as anxiety, depression, bullying, relationships, and more,” she said. “This virtual platform will not only be an informational resource for those eager to better support the young people in their lives, but a user-friendly space for young people to learn more about themselves and their mental health,” she said.

“The Kids Helpline phone and text lines are a safe and supportive environment for young people to express their feelings and seek help,” Dr Lam said. “The Helpline ensures anonymity, encouraging children to reach out without fear of judgement. Those who reach out can talk through an issue with our trained volunteers, discuss choices and gain help in developing a plan of action.”

The Alex Panton Foundation invites parents, educators, and other community members advocating for youth to spread awareness about the Cayman Kids Helpline and its crucial role in providing emotional support to children and teenagers across the islands.

“By working together, we can create a safer and more nurturing environment for Cayman’s young people,” Ms Panton said.

The Kids Helpline does not offer therapy or replace therapeutic services in any way. The Kids Helpline offers a confidential and safe place to explore, talk, or chat through mental health matters. It aims to serve as a referral channel, connecting young people and their parents, educators, or caregivers to available resources.

Mental health symposium focuses on acceptance

This year’s annual 2024 Youth Mental Health Symposium placed the importance of creating an environment of belonging and acceptance at the forefront of helping young people cope with their mental health issues.

The Alex Panton Foundation’s annual gathering of mental health experts took place on Saturday 17 February at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman under the theme ‘Building Bridges: Acceptance, Belonging, and the Power of Connection’.

Creating an environment of belonging, acceptance, and connection was paramount for improving youth mental health, the audience heard. Experts talked about how positive social support networks, such as family, friends, and community, act as a crucial safety net against stress and loneliness, reducing the risk of anxiety and depression.

The connections formed with family and friends contribute to the development of a positive identity, emotional regulation, and resilience, enabling young individuals to navigate the challenges of adolescence. A supportive social environment also encourages young people to seek help if they need it, promotes positive peer influence, and the development of healthy communication skills. Ultimately, fostering a sense of belonging provides a foundation for self-esteem, purpose, and well-being, positively shaping the mental health of Cayman’s youth.

The Symposium provided an opportunity for a crucial dialogue around how people in Cayman could create such an environment for all the young people of the Cayman Islands, along with providing key takeaways and actionable outcomes for attendees.

It has developed into a must-attend event each year for anyone caring about the mental health of Cayman’s youth, providing a supportive network of professional keen to share their knowledge with attendees. These include clinicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, and leaders within the mental health industry in the Cayman Islands, as well as parents, community leaders and youth ambassadors.

Mrs Panton said: “We take immense pride in the growth that the Alex Panton Foundation annual Symposium has achieved since its inception. The invaluable resources offered at the Symposium are a testament to our ongoing commitment, and we are delighted to provide this free event to the community.”

The agenda for this year’s Symposium included a diverse array of topics, engaging lunch activations, and interactive question-and-answer sessions, and attendees were encouraged to actively participate.

Speakers included Dr Chantal Basson, Alex’s Place, HSA, who spoke about why acceptance, belonging and connection formed the cornerstones of emotional wellbeing and how they affected those who are discriminated against. Mirabelle D’Cunha, Mindfulness and Resilience Coach, Mirabelle D’Cunha Integrative Wellness talked about how MindCraft was biometric gaming for resilience. Dr Stephanie Edwards, Educational Psychologist, Department of Education Services, gave an update on their Emotional Literacy Programme and Dr Tonya Holder, Consultant Psychiatrist at the HSA, gave an update on resources for young people, namely the Kids Helpline & Alex’s Place.

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