The Substance Abuse Foundation is reaching out to at-risk youth between ages 10 and 17 through an intervention programme.
Director of Clinical Services at the foundation Allison Gotip told Barbados TODAY that the Teen Intervene programme will help young people who are struggling to cope with significant emotional, physical and mental health challenges, which arise in the transitional period of adolescence, a pivotal developmental phase in life.
“Teen intervention is for youth who may be having some challenges – may be how they are settling into school, not actually going to school, or young people who may just have a red flag. It can come from the parents, it can come from the court system, it can come from the probation department.
“They may be facing emotional regulation, how to be able to express their emotions in a healthy way. I think it is how young persons view themselves. With social media which is a blessing and a curse there is always comparisons.
“We found persons doing more self harm, a lot of that is probably them feeling that they haven’t got someone who is actually going to take the time not only to speak to them but to actually listen,” Gotip said.
She further explained that the programme was influenced by consideration of the environmental impact on vulnerable teens linked to the current COVID-19 pandemic which has led to increased poverty, educational losses and greater gender vulnerabilities, including higher levels of gender-based violence within the family setting.
She said research also showed that the resumption of in-person classes had revealed a recognisable increase in stress, anxiety, depression and negative social behaviour, impacting the mental and emotional health of young people.
Nationally, there is heightened need for counselling and a range of non-punitive therapeutic interventions, Gotip said.
“I recall the Prime Minister recently said she wishes she had a blank cheque and that she would love a residential place for young people, not necessarily people who are in the court system, but people who have behavioural or emotional challenges. And as an organisation we adhere to that,” she said.
The clinical director said over the years, the 20-year-old foundation which also manages Verdun and Marina Wellness Clinic, has conducted research which shows that most of the adult clients were exposed to traumatic experiences at a young age and this has led to their addiction disease.
She also revealed that the foundation recently hosted at Marina House in New Castle St John, Confident Me, a gender-specific youth and adolescent programme that sits within the teen intervention curriculum. Several girls attended the workshop designed to improve their psychosocial function through self-confidence and self-worth exercises.
A similar workshop will be held for boys in the coming weeks.
Gotip said the foundation has reached out to corporate Barbados seeking financial assistance to fund the teen intervention programme which will engage participants in therapeutic sessions conducted by a team of experienced and qualified therapists.[email protected]