As mental health and well-being continue to assume greater importance in everyday life, local and international experts in psychology are urging all stakeholders to show an interest in the mental health of their children, co-workers and relatives to ensure a harmonious society.

Speaking at the 25th annual violence prevention conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port of Spain, on Friday, founder of American advocacy group Awareity, Rick Shaw, urged public and private stakeholders to use networking as a means of addressing mental health issues and to pay closer attention, as subtle warning signs tend to precede incidents of mass violence.

Shaw recalled instances of mass shooting in the US and said there was need to pay closer attention to children and youths displaying violent or troubled tendencies. He encouraged school officials to partner with parents and law enforcement as a means of getting children the treatment they need.

“Violence is like a disease. It can infect someone. Reducing violence is all about looking for the warning signs. The problem is they tend to be scattered across to different individuals, sometimes parents, teachers, law enforcement or others.

“What we see a lot of times, unfortunately, is, these indicators are out there but they are so scattered, no one person can see what is coming. We have to do a better job of prevention and reducing violence and we have to do a better job of listening and give people a way to feel connected.”

Newsday also spoke to criminologist Renee Cummings, who agreed with Shaw, and said relatives and teachers ought to adopt a more proactive approach in preventing violent acts before they were committed.

“There will be no reduction to crime if we don’t tackle violence. I think we’re a very reactive society and we need to be more proactive. We need to look at early intervention and early exposure to violence. The latter is the greatest indicator of whether someone will be involved in violence later in life. There is no single agency that can do that.”

The theme of this year’s conference was Transcending Boundaries Together, which, according to founder of Elder Associates Ltd Dr Patricia Elder,was indicative of the collaborative effort required to overcome psychological challenges.

By Shane Superville | Newsday


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