Have you wondered why youths in Belize are so angry and more willing to join gangs? The Mental Health Association says it has the answers. And today at the first Mental Health Conference—an initiative they hope will become an annual event—the focus was on anger management, violence and motivational interviewing; helping people to make positive change. The two-day event—held at the UWI compound—caters primarily to health professionals, social and youth workers, students, counsellors, teachers, prison personnel and members of the judiciary, but also hopes that public participation can increase awareness and provide greater insight into mental health.

Jennifer Lovell, President, Mental Health Association
“We have a murder just about couple times; two times a week we have a murder and a lot of times the murders that we are seeing are revenge, anger and it seems like everybody is almost like immobilized. We don’t know what to do; throw our hands up right. When you address it psychosocially, what you’re doing is you're going back and teaching teachers, councillors, anybody who will listen techniques, teaching kids how to deal with anger because it’s okay to be angry, it’s not okay to act out on your anger by hurting somebody else. And so we are not addressing the kids per say, who we are addressing are the people who work with these kids. We’re thinking we need to go back with kids and find out what hurt them in the past and how can we help them to address those issues so that then they will be able to deal with their rage and whatever it is that’s affecting them. That’s one part of it. There's another presenter who’s talking about how kids get recruited into gangs; the reason they join gangs, what preventative strategies can we make to keep them out of gangs, what are some of the signs and symptoms parents can look for if they want to be able to combat this whole issue of kids in gangs. Parents have to be involved, teachers have to be involved, the whole community has to be involved.”

Tomorrow, the conference continues under the theme, “Addressing the Psychosocial Agenda with Professionalism,” and centres on emotional literacy and self injurious behaviour.
Channel 5