POND ISLAND–St. Maarten needs home-grown psychologists and social workers. This was the consensus from attendees at the third University of St. Martin (USM) seminar series held at USM on Thursday, November 8.
Themed “Mental Health and Psychology on St. Maarten,” the event attracted 60 participants who interacted with representatives of six local organisations and three speakers to lead the public dialogue on the country’s post-hurricane situation, focussing especially on the themes of child psychology, parenting, violence and addictions.
Panellists included school counsellor Jina Mahbubani, USM lecturer Fernando Richardson and clinical psychologist Dr. Judith Arndell. The three had something to say about the wave of violence and incidences of drug- and gambling-addiction St. Maarten is currently experiencing, especially among the youth.
During intermissions and in a community-fair-like atmosphere, attendees had the opportunity to meet representatives of Mental Health Foundation (MHF), Alzheimer’s Foundation, Dr. J Enterprises, Turning Point Foundation, Ujima Foundation, the St. Maarten Red Cross, the Association of Psychologists and Allied Professionals, and the Court of Guardianship.
Co-sponsored by the Department of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BAK and the United Nations Children’s Fund UNESCO St. Maarten, the evening began with some introductory words by Rose Pooram Fleming, who recalled the importance of using the framework of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 3 which promotes health and well-being.
USM alumnus and youth social worker Lenworth Wilson Jr. moderated the seminar with much enthusiasm. Following the presentations, Wilson asked the audience whether there was a need for USM to offer degree programmes in psychology and social work. The audience responded with a resounding round of applause.
“The need has been squarely qualified. Please take note, Mr. President,” Wilson suggested to USM President Antonio Carmona Báez.
Members of the audience raised questions about the need for more awareness, research, training in parenting and statistics. “Qualitative research is also an area where the university can contribute to the solution of the many mental health issues our community is facing,” said USM General Liberal Arts Division head Leona Nestor-Hubert.
Since their appointments in May this year, Carmona and USM Dean of Academics Dr. Rolinda Carter have expressed their desire to expand the University’s course offerings and degree programmes. “We hope to continue receiving government support to build these programmes which will be of great value to the community,” said Carmona.
The USM seminar series was broadcast live by CaniTV, and more than 400 persons have seen (parts of) the public seminars from the comfort of their homes via Facebook.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/82601-usm-urged-to-offer-psychology-and-social-work-programmes