CAY HILL, Sint Maarten — During the week of October 17 through 21, 2022, the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) initiated the Prioritize Your Mind Get Screened on Time High School Screening Tour to raise awareness on Stress, Anxiety and Depression amongst students, during World Mental Health Month, which is observed every October.
8 high schools including SVOBE (MPC & Sundial), Sint Maarten Academy and Sint Maarten Academy PSVE, St. Dominic High, Sint Maarten Vocational Training School, Charlotte Brookson Academy of the Performing Arts, and the Caribbean International Academy participated in the screening tour.
The screening tour was executed by a team of MHF staff, who visited 1 to 2 high schools daily for approximately 2 to 4 hours to facilitate the screeners, answers mental health questions and engage students on ways to prioritize their mind.
The team engaged students on a voluntary basis to get acquainted with the available screeners and anonymously participate. Many students demonstrated enthusiasm to learn about mental health and the preventative tools and activities available to monitor their mental wellbeing. Majority of the students opted to utilize all 3 screeners, which were returned to the MHF team for scoring. The team anticipates over 1000 screeners were completed. The accumulated scores are scheduled to be returned to each school with a brief report demonstrating the presence or lack of potential elevated stress, anxiety and depression levels amongst participants to provide an overview of student wellness. The latter can be utilized to assist each school in prioritizing various future mental health information and prevention initiatives for their school community.
Mental health screeners are usually utilized to help determine if there is a presence of symptoms and their potential elevated levels, which if neglected, could potentially lead to mental health disruptions. Screeners however do not provide diagnosis, but can serve as a prevention tool to help persons determine which areas they need to pay attention to and whether they can independently address their challenges to reduce symptoms or should consider seeking professional help to prevent serious mental health disruptions.
Students were given free mental health trinkets including prioritize your mind-themed mental health enamel pins, pens and feelings wheel stickers post participation. Many professors also participated in the activities, further requesting a similar activity is considered for staff and faculty. The latter demonstrates the initiative was positively met by the institutions, while some schools took greater lengths to include the activity as part of student wellness and suggested future follow up with information sessions and other positive collaborations to normalize mental wellness within their organizational structure.
The activities also allowed MHF to establish rapport with the varied high schools and strengthen communication ties. This is an area the foundation has long sought to fortify in efforts of fostering better information and prevention collaborations pertaining to mental health. MHF would hereby also like to commend and extend our gratitude to the faculty and students of all participating schools for an amazing experience and assisting our mission in raising awareness on mental wellbeing. The tour provided great insight on areas where activities of such nature can be improved and expand in the near future.
The MHF team consisted of the facilitator of the initiative, (from left to right )Ms. Emmalexis Velasquez, Psychologist and Info & Prevention Officer, Ms. Sherika Ramsay, Clinical Assistant, specialized in social work, Ms. Giselle Codrington, Psychologist/Acting Clinical Assistant, as well as Mr. Jerry Linger, MHF Registered Nurse, specialized in psychiatric care (not pictured).