CARICOM and UNICEF Collaborating on Youth Mental Health

In partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Caribbean Community Secretariat will launch a survey on the mental health and well-being issues experienced by youth across the Region.





The launch will coincide with World Mental Health Day, observed internationally on 10 October.  Activities this year are being held under the theme “Mental health is a universal human right.”

Identifying mental health challenges

The survey results will inform activities associated with achieving Goal #3 of the CARICOM Youth Development Action Plan (CYDAP) to improve the health and holistic well-being of adolescents and youth and the Sustainable Development Goal Target 3.4.

Michele Small-Bartley, Deputy Programme Manager, Youth Development at the CARICOM Secretariat, explained that the Secretariat, in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), would utilise the results from the data analysis to develop a programme that will seek to build the capacity of youth practitioners and leaders across the Community.

Specifically, the programme would assist practitioners in identifying mental health and psychological signs and symptoms among youth.  She further highlighted that the trainees would act as first responders to assisting youth with challenges that may lead to mental health, psychological or emotional issues.



Heightened vulnerability

The Deputy Programme Manager underscored that the survey is being implemented at a critical moment for the Region, as mental health and youth dominate discussions and agendas of regional and international conferences, including the upcoming 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 28). 

According to Small-Bartley, “Exposure to environmental issues associated with climate change and social and economic challenges, further exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19 occurring at the Member State level, has affected young people’s ability to navigate their pathway successfully.

These issues have heightened youth vulnerability, making them more susceptible to psychosocial, emotional and mental health issues.”

Building Resilience of Caribbean Youth



A study by UNICEF (2020) conducted in Latin America and the Caribbean revealed that 27% of youth respondents were experiencing anxiety, while 15% were depressed.

Additionally, one in every two young persons lacked the motivation to do their usual activities.

Notably, 43% of females expressed dissatisfaction with the future, compared to 31% of males. Three (3) in every four (4) felt the need to ask for help.

The CARICOM-UNICEF survey results would be integral to formulating strategies to build the capacity of youth to identify, manage and seek solutions to these mental health issues.

In addition, Small-Bartley shared that the project will commence with collecting data using a survey instrument that measures depression, general anxiety, well-being, and support.

The CARICOM Secretariat and UNICEF will jointly generate and publish the report in the public domain from the collected and analysed data.

The initiative’s overarching goal is to build Caribbean Youth’s resilience to cope with challenges that may lead to psychological issues for better mental health outcomes.



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