The Cayman Islands may have been sheltered from the worst effects from the global pandemic with very little in the way of restrictions to normal life when compared to places like the UK, but that does not mean that people’s mental health, especially young people’s mental health, has not suffered as a result. A recent report on the BBC from a few days ago noted the effects the pandemic was having on the UK’s youngsters:
“From increasing rates of mental health problems to concerns about rising levels of abuse and neglect and the potential harm being done to the development of babies, the pandemic is threatening to have a devastating legacy on the nation's young.”
A relatively short (in comparison to the UK) lockdown and period of home schooling last year will still have made its mark on young people’s mental health, along with constant information on the pandemic from social media and other online sources, which means Cayman’s young people are not oblivious to the mental toll the pandemic has taken on us all.
Thankfully there is an excellent resource within Cayman’s community that can assist young people, who are often not mature enough to adequately express their feelings. The Alex Panton Foundation has grown to become an important resource for those looking to help young people with mental health issues. Next Saturday, 20th February, is it holding its 4th annual symposium at The Ritz-Carlton , during which time they will be looking back at the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on youth mental wellness, their recovery efforts during this time and how, through programmes such as the Youth Ambassador Programme and the Emotional Literacy Programme, the Foundation is helping to build resilience in Cayman’s young people.
The Alex Panton Foundation runs a number of great programmes to help youngsters in the community, and their Emotional Literacy Programme called Zippy is one of them, which is aimed at children aged 5 to 9 years.
For this, the Foundation partnered with Partnership for Children, a UK based non-profit organisation, to create a school-based programme for children to help them develop skills to communicate effectively, and thereby cope with anxieties. There is also an adapted programme for children with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities. The programme allows children to develop their own positive strategies to deal with problems through engaging activities, such as listening to stories, discussion, games, role-play and drawing. A broad cross-section of Government and private schools are currently engaged in this programme. For more information on this and other Alex Panton Foundation programmes visit: alexpantonfoundation.ky