Major conference to examine mental health problems
A teacher said he hoped to research how the island’s history, culture and geography affected how teenagers looked for help with mental health problems.
Daniel Cavanagh, a PhD student, added he had started a literature review to establish the need for a closer look at the subject.
He will talk about Adolescent Anxiety and Depression in the keynote address at the Bermuda Mental Health Foundation’s first virtual conference later this month.
Mr Cavanagh, a psychology teacher at Warwick Academy, said: “We need to understand what our adolescents think and how they act when they personally experience or else someone they know experiences these disorders, for example where do they go for help? What stops them?”
He added: “We need to have a community conversation about how big a problem it is when people don't seek help, what is preventing us from seeking help and how we can overcome this.”
Mr Cavanagh said that he will look at what studies have been carried out internationally and determine which research is relevant to Bermuda.
He explained that he consulted experts on the island including psychologists and paediatricians, who said that a study into what stopped young people from seeking help would be useful.
He added: “I’m interested in looking at how the uniqueness of Bermuda – in terms of its history, culture, geography – has implications for the adolescents’ mental health.”
Heather Stephen, a psychiatric nurse at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute, will take part in a panel discussion at the conference on Avoiding Burnout and Ways to Move the Bermuda Mental Health Industry Forward.
She said: “Bermuda has a small population and its culture emphasises the importance of family, closeness, and support.
“With this being said, it is essential our community is best equipped to help those in need, and that begins with taking care of ourselves first.”
Ms Stephen said that the conference, on October 28, will cover “the whole gamut” of mental health topics.
She added: “I think anybody who wants to know anything about mental health would find several golden nuggets of knowledge and takeaways from this conference.”
Jessica Lightbourne, the chief executive officer of the Bermuda Coaching Network, said her session will help people to understand the difference between coaching and therapy.
She added: “Many Bermudians are still unaware of what coaching is and its value in personal and professional development.
“Coaching has been reserved for the privileged for years, which in Bermuda, historically, would have predominately been white, male executives, or white male talent.
“This landscape is changing and the availability of coaches for all people regardless of social determinants, in Bermuda and globally, is growing exponentially.
“Coaching is becoming more and more accessible and I believe that this accessibility to coaches can change Bermuda in the workplace, in healthcare, and from a social justice perspective.”
Ms Lightbourne said: “The bottom line is, coaches provide another avenue to holistic wellbeing, including mental wellbeing, and can be available for all people.
“Coaches partner with people so that they relate to themselves as leaders, and Bermuda needs leaders at every level.”
She added: “Coaching has not generally carried the stigma associated with therapy and because of that, I think that it can be a safe entryway into the helping professions.
“Properly trained coaches will know when it is appropriate to refer their clients to a therapist, and will do so, which I believe can ensure more people are accessing the support they need.”
Brenda Dale, an assistant vice-president for wellness at insurance firm BF&M, will talk at the conference about what to look for in mental health insurance coverage.
She said: “We all should have insurance coverage that ensures our mental wellbeing is just as intact as our physical wellbeing.”
Ms Dale added: “Bermudians pay a fortune for health insurance and they need to use their health benefits wisely to address the preventive aspects of their health.”
Adriene Berkeley, a chartered psychologist, chartered neuroscientist and founder of PsyNeu, which provides services to “support emotional, psychological and cognitive wellness”, will talk about Coping with Loss, Stress and Anxiety.
She said her session would cover how these emotions could present themselves and how to manage them.
Dr Berkeley added: “Unfortunately the stigma regarding mental health and the perceived experience of distress and mental illness has clouded our willingness to openly discuss and seek support.
“Because of the pandemic, our community is becoming more open to having the conversations but awareness is still needed on how mental health challenges can present and how these challenges can be effectively managed.”
Jodi Covington, a BMHF spokeswoman, said that the free Mental Health: It’s About All of Us conference was designed to educate people and to find solutions.
The conference will run on the hopin online platform, which lets people interact with each other.
Ms Covington said: “One of the exciting opportunities will be our networking slot.
“Attendees will be automatically linked to professional counsellors for a one-on-one brief session where they can ask anything they want to know about talk therapy.
“The goal is to introduce attendees who have not considered talk therapy to our local professionals and learn as much as possible about this wonderful tool.”
* To register for the free conference, which runs from 10am to 5pm on October 28, visitwww.bmhf.bm.