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The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a surge in mental health issues among the young, according to an island charity.

Family Centre, which provides counselling services for troubled teenagers, said that it had seen calls increase almost 50 per cent in the past two years.

The pandemic, which has resulted in 141 deaths on the island since March 2020, has been blamed for the spike in mental health issues among the young.

Sandy De Silva, the centre’s executive director, said: “Sadly, the last two-and-a-half years have had a significantly negative impact on the mental health of our children, teens and families worldwide. Covid-19 has given rise to a mental health pandemic.”

Susan Richardson, the centre’s director of counselling services, added: “Last year, Family Centre experienced a 47 per cent increase in calls by parents, guardians, schools and other community agencies requesting our therapeutic care for children and teens compared to 2020.

“The calls for help remain on the rise in 2022. Children and teens are experiencing fear, confusion, anxiety, depression, anger, grief and some have thoughts about harming themselves or have already done so.

“Our services are in demand, and we are committed to ensuring that we remain accessible and support everyone who needs our assistance.”

According to Leila Wadson, the centre’s director of community services, anxiety among young people is affecting their schoolwork.

Ms Wadson said: “Some of the pandemic-related stressors affecting the youth we work with include school social challenges, difficulty focusing in class and failing grades.

“Our community programmes aim to mitigate the negative impact of these stressors by recognising, utilising and enhancing youths’ strengths. These programmes promote positive outcomes for young people by providing opportunities, fostering positive relationships and furnishing the support needed to build on strengths.

“Our community programmes promote the mental health and wellbeing of young people by mitigating risk factors and enhancing the protective factors in their lives.

“These factors are so important because they directly influence a young person’s ability to overcome adversity, demonstrate resilience and believe in and work towards a positive future.”

The charity has launched a fundraising campaign ahead of the Emancipation Day holiday at the end of this month.

Family Centre will be handing out Cup Match coloured ribbons in return for donations to fund its services, which provide “an holistic approach to children and teens who are experiencing social and emotional challenges”.

The drive is being sponsored by Clarien Bank.

Michael DeCouto, the bank’s chief digital and marketing officer, said: “Leading up to the Cup Match holiday, we encourage our clients, staff and the wider community to support Family Centre tag day.

“Not only is this a perfect opportunity to support your favourite red-blue or blue-blue team, it’s also something small we can all do to help strengthen families and make our island home a happier, healthier and safer place.”

To find out more about the Family Centre’s campaign, click here.


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