Thursday 9 April, 2020

‘Bounce-Back’ initiative being used to help kids recover from violence

Psychiatrist, Dr Ganesh Shetty, delivering his lesson at a recent training session held at Excelsior Community College.

Psychiatrist, Dr Ganesh Shetty, delivering his lesson at a recent training session held at Excelsior Community College.

Primary schools in communities affected by high levels of crime in the Corporate Area are now being engaged in ‘Bounce-Back One’, an initiative endorsed by the ministries of National Security and Health and Wellness.

Bounce-Back One is a care programme designed to help children recover after being screened for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by exposure to or from being victims of violence.

The three schools now engaged in the six-week programme led by psychiatrist, Dr Ganesh Shetty, are Norman Gardens Primary and Junior High, Windward Road Primary and Junior High, and Mountain View Primary School.

In supporting the programme, National Security Minister, Dr. Horace Chang, said young people are becoming more exposed to acts of violence and heinous criminal activities.

“As a result of this exposure,” the minister said, “we have observed that violent crimes are being enacted by some of the youngest among our youth cohort. Criminal networks are intensively seeking to recruit from the most vulnerable groups in society, like children.  As a Government, we are in the process of reformulating the way in which we carry out social intervention, and Bounce-Back is one example.”

Bounce-Back One trainees sit an exam after a training session on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

 Vice Principal at Mountain View Primary School, Lisa Bailey, said the programme teaches both students and teachers emotional intelligence, as well as new and interesting ways of identifying and dealing with trauma.

“Bounce-Back is a good initiative,” she said, noting that “while there will never be a programme sufficient to cover trauma and challenges with violence, Bounce-Back is a start.”

Bailey said over 500 students are expected to be impacted by weekly Bounce-Back sessions at Mountain View Primary.

Bounce-Back One began on February 7 and aims to provide teachers, guidance counsellors and parents with support to deal with issues surrounding child and adolescent mental health. Training is delivered offsite as well as on school compounds, and is expected to end in April.

According to Facilitator, Psychologist and Counselling Co-ordinator for the Kingston and St Andrew Health Department, Theresa Wallace, teachers in training will work with students using the Bounce-Back One Manual.

Facilitator, Psychologist and Counselling Co-ordinator for the Kingston and St Andrew Health Department, Theresa Wallace, takes charge during a recent Bounce-Back One training session at Excelsior Community College.

“We anticipate good results from those we are working with. This is an effective programme which we have used in other schools and have seen the results,” said Wallace.

Through the manual, students participate in a range of cognitive and behavioural exercises, which may require writing or drawings, and could eventually be used to analyse their state of mind.

She said, “For those who have gone through Bounce-Back One and still manifest signs of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), they are later engaged in Bounce-Back Two, which is a more intimate, one-on-one session.”

Wallace explained that children who display persistent symptoms after participating in these programmes are recommended for further treatment.

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