Global mental health conference to offer solution to crime

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Global mental health conference to offer solution to crime

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

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SPECIALIST in childhood trauma and violence and the first African-American women to lead the 173-year-old American Psychiatric Association (APA) Dr Altha Stewart will be in Jamaica this weekend to address members of the public, local psychiatrists and other stakeholders on strategies to alleviate conflict and violence as means of curbing the development of mental illnesses.

Stewart, who is president-elect, will deliver the keynote address, “Worldwide Challenges of Complex Trauma and Child Mental Health” at the third annual Global Mental Health Conference convened by The University of the West Indies' Caribbean Institute of Mental Health and Substance Abuse (CARIMENSA). The conference is scheduled for Saturday, March 31 and Sunday, April 1, 2018 at the Faculty of Medical Sciences.

“The conference will explore a range of global mental health responses to the scourge of violence, including “Maternal and Child Mental Health Challenges”; “Mental Health and Violence” and “The 'Rude Bwoy' Psychopathology and Violence in Jamaica”.

Part of the soltuion, Stewart posits, is to create a trauma-informed culture in communities to focus on preventing violence and trauma to children; providing help to children exposed to violence; training educators, law enforcement, health providers and families in strategies for reducing childhood violence and offering peaceful options for resolving conflict; and creating a climate that supports children and fosters collaboration among service providers.

“We believe in addressing antisocial behaviours before they emerge, thereby preventing them. Many of these behaviours are linked to the violence as we know it. That is why we have focused in on these challenges. Many countries of the world have developed differing techniques to get to the core of violent behaviour,” said executive director of CARIMENSA, Professor Frederick Hickling who pointed to the similarity in approach between Stewart's preventative approach and CARIMENSA's.

The organisation noted that issues of violence on children continue to be of concern globally and referenced recent anti-violence protest marches by youth in the USA.

“This gives credence to the APA president-elect's ongoing research which outlines that statistics have shown that up to 50 per cent of American children have been exposed to violence in their homes or neighbourhoods; and this exposure could contribute to negative behaviours in children and a cycle of violence in the future,” CARIMENSA said in a statement to the press.

Stewart will be joined by Frantz Fanon's daughter, human rights activist Mirielle Fanon; Mendes France who will deliver Sunday morning's keynote address; Dr Earl Wright, president, Jamaica Psychiatric Association; Professor Wendel Abel; Professor Roger Gibson; international professors of psychiatry Dixon Chibanda from Zimbabwe, Jazwant Guzder from Canada, and Ben Bowser, Aime Charles Nicholas and Ann Bailey. Also presenting at the conference are Dr Herbert Gayle; Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan; Dr Christopher Charles; Dr Geoffrey Walcott and Professor Frederick Hickling, professor emeritus of psychiatry at The UWI.


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