The Ministry of Education’s proposal for a mental health committee to examine how students and teachers are coping during the COVID-19 pandemic is being fully supported by veteran social worker George Griffith who is hoping that committee gets to work immediately.
Griffith, during an interview with Barbados TODAY also indicated that he is awaiting word on which professions will be included on the committee which he is hoping will take a thorough look at the challenges facing students.
“As we all should know, the challenges confronting children, their parents, the households and the school system as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic are multifaceted and require not only immediate intervention, but the medium and long-term implications must be seriously provided for,” he said.
“There must be a thorough assessment which would lead to a plan of action. We must know that adequate resources are available and that included in all of that would be an ongoing monitoring and evaluation process to ensure the committee’s focus and success.”
Griffith said with social workers and guidance counsellors based at some schools and psychologists working with the Ministry of Education, he believes that getting the committee set up and working should not be a difficult task. However, he said it would be critical to have a fast-track mechanism to report on observations in the school system.
The former President of the Barbados Social Workers Association (BSWA) pointed out that teachers have already been speaking out about what they have been observing through online classes.
Griffith, who is trained in medical and psychiatric social work said: “They would know those children who are most adversely impacted by the pandemic. But, we would not know all of them because not all children will demonstrate a response to what they are experiencing in the same way.
“It is an opportunity for us, I think, to demonstrate what we are capable of doing; to demonstrate that we really and truly have the interests of our children at heart and that we are prepared to use the professionals that we have and all the other resources that we have at our disposal to begin now.
“If we don’t, any negative attitudes and behaviours that would have developed as a consequence of this can become hardened and can fester and manifest into very negative behaviour not only in the school system, but in the families and in the communities as well.”