Teen hubs being established in St Thomas and Westmoreland

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Teen hubs being established in St Thomas and Westmoreland

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica— Two teen hubs, a non-traditional access point and a safe environment where young people and adolescents can access a wide range of services, are currently being set up in St Thomas and Westmoreland.

The services will include HIV testing and counselling, pregnancy tests, mental health screening, counselling referral, assistance with homework and school-based assessments and skills training.

The first teen hub was opened in November 2017 at the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre in St Andrew through the collaborative effort of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.

Manager of the Adolescent Unit in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Joy Chambers, said as part of the ministry's adolescent programme, “we are going to be establishing two more, one in St Thomas and one in Westmoreland”.

“We are currently working on that now, because we recognise that even though we try to make the adolescent clinics friendly and safe for them, some youngsters don't want to go to their clinics because of labelling or to have the community see them going there,” she said.

“So I do believe the teen hub is a viable option where they can access the type of services they want and when they want,” she added.

Chambers was speaking recently at The Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation annual virtual lecture on adolescent pregnancy, which was this year named in honour of the centre's first national director Pamela McNeill.

She outlined some of the initiatives that are being undertaken by the health ministry to reduce teen pregnancy and to make the services friendly for them.

Noting that the teen hub in Half-Way Tree, since the pandemic, has hosted a virtual health fair and is exploring other ways to reach the adolescents, she said that it is the desire of the ministry to have a teen hub in every parish.

As it relates to improving the services provided to adolescents, Chambers said the ministry has developed several standards and related criteria to ensure that adolescents are provided with quality services.

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