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Children suffering mental health problems

Men In Action: Llewellyn Simmons, left, and Anthony Peets

Schoolchildren are suffering more mental health problems, educational experts have warned.

Llewellyn Simmons, director of academics for the Ministry of Education, said: “Without a doubt it’s a growing problem.”

He added: “There’s a lot of stress and distress, and anxiety issues that we are beginning to witness more and more in young people — especially in adolescents.”

Dr Simmons, a member of the group Men in Action, was speaking as the three-strong organisation prepared for an event to highlight the need for closer attention to the mental health of youngsters at the Bermuda Institute in Southampton.

The group, formed in 2011, aims to provide mentoring for young people — especially boys.

It is made up of Dr Simmons, Anthony Peets, a counsellor at Prospect Primary, and Phil Maybury, an education specialist.

The group provides free services, including counselling, consulting and professional development.

The organisation’s Facebook page is used as a platform for other groups working with youngsters.

Dr Simmons said that access to mental health services was a problem for some people.

He explained: “For a certain segment of our community, they don’t have access to certain persons in those roles — because there’s a certain cost factor. Not everyone can afford the expensive psychologist.”

Dr Simmons said that the problem Bermuda faced was how to work out how to provide mental health services “to those persons who have the least resources for the service that is in great demand”.

Mr Peets, the director of MIA, said: “All that we do impacts the mental health of our nation.

“If you have some intentional, targeted practices, you typically get intentional, targeted results.”

His presentation at the event will focus on what parents can do to help promote mental health in their children.

Mr Peets added: “All of their actions impact their child’s mental health.”

He said that parents should make the mental health of their children “a top priority”.

Mr Peets added that after targeting Bermuda’s schools to help deliver its message, MIA planned to work with sports clubs.

He said that two clubs had already contacted him to report mental health problems that had affected their behaviour.

Mr Peets added: “They’re getting hostile over certain things.

“They have to deal with all these other issues before they can kick the ball.”

Tonight’s event, organised by the school’s Home and School Association, will run from 6.30pm to 7.30pm.