'I Love My Life'
Dr Carolyn Jackson, executive clinical director of Caribbean Tots 2 Teens, provides students with an introduction to mental health. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

Bellevue Hospital on Wednesday, September 13 welcomed students from high schools in the Corporate Area for the first staging of its 'I love My Life' workshop.

Held in observance of World Suicide Prevention Month, the workshop was geared at equipping the students with knowledge to speak openly about mental health, identify signs of common mental illnesses, and access mental health resources.

The session featured presentations by Senator Dr Saphire Longmore, who is a psychiatrist; Dr Carolyn Jackson, executive clinical director of Caribbean Tots 2 Teens; and Dr Renee Rowe, medical officer at Bellevue Hospital.

In her presentation, Longmore shared strategies for teens to celebrate themselves and genuinely appreciate the hope that comes with being alive, despite obstacles and setbacks that teens often face.

Students of St Hugh's High School and Dunoon Park Technical High School focus on the presentation by Dr Carolyn Jackson on mental health.(Photo: Joseph Wellington)

Jackson delved into the mental health spectrum, and shared types of stress and different types of coping skills that teens use, and ways to develop resilience.

Rowe's presentation guided students gently into openly discussing the topic of suicide. In addition to sharing common contributing factors to suicide ideation and how students can manage them, Rowe also shared resources that students can utilise in times of need.

In welcoming the students to the event, Bellevue Hospital board member Khadrea Folkes urged each student to help break the stigma around mental health in their classes, schools, families and communities.

"One of the most powerful steps we can take is to break the silence and let our friends know that it's okay to talk about mental health; in fact, it's essential," she said.

Bellevue Hospital board member Khadrea Folkes (right) and medical officer Renee Rowe (centre) assist students from St Hugh's High School and Dunoon Park Technical High to create and paint an image showing what they love the most about their lives. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

"By speaking openly about our emotions, challenges, and experiences, we shatter the stigma that surrounds mental health issues. Through these conversations, we build a supportive community that empowers us and our friends to seek help when needed."

The students then had an opportunity to visit the hospital's public recreational space — Oo Park — where they enjoyed a painting session while sipping on cold beverages from the Milo truck that was on location.

Camille Campbell, public relations manager for the Anglo-Dutch Caribbean at Nestle, expressed that the manufacturing conglomerate is happy to renew its relationship with Bellevue Hospital, as it augers well for the development of mental health care in Jamaica, which is critical for overall health.

"The 'I Love My Life' workshop aligns seamlessly with MILO's mission to inspire and support the next generation. Together with Bellevue Hospital, we aim to foster a community of confident, resilient teenagers who are equipped to face life's challenges head-on. At Nestlé, we believe that a healthy body is the foundation for a happy life. We were excited to support this initiative that empowers young individuals to make positive choices for their well-being, nourishing their potential with the goodness of MILO."

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