Mental health is a serious concern to all

The incident involving 22 year old Nishal Sankat is a further wake up call for a better understanding of mental health and wellness here in Trinidad and Tobago. As I read articles and I hear the conversations taking place, it concerns me that the population is not as understanding of the reality of mental health as we should be. Nishal Sankat has now reiterated for me, the need for parents to be a bit more vigilant and to speak with their children. I spoke with Nishal's father Professor Clement Sankat to offer some words of comfort in this difficult time that his family is facing and when he mentioned that depression was something his son was dealing with the one thing that resonated with me was that this could be any of our children.

I want parents and the population to know that there are many resources that are available to all citizens if they ever feel like any situation is becoming too much to manage. Nishal went to good schools, had good grades, had the love and support of family and friends and still, something was missing for him that brought him to this point. None of us are exempt. All of us have a part to play in breaking the stigma of mental health and wellness and making it comfortable for persons who need help, to seek it.

At the Ministry of Education we provide support for students through the Student Support Services Division with our Social Workers and Guidance Counselors, for employees through the Employee Assistance Programme and for any member of the public, there are Mental Health and Wellness Centres across the country that are accessible in addition to other resources. 

We all have a responsibility to ensure that we are our brother's keeper. Be attentive, ask questions and be a shoulder for someone who may need it. I am thankful that the out come of this unfortunate incident was not a different one and that I am able to give this message today.

I commit to working with our schools and students to get to a place in Trinidad and Tobago where we prioritize and understand mental health just as we do physical health.

 

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