RBC extends mental health initiative to Cayman Islands

The largest bank in Canada is extending into the Cayman Islands its multimillion dollar charitable programme designed to help children with mental illness.

Royal Bank of Canada is soliciting non-governmental and charitable organisations in Cayman and the wider Caribbean to submit proposals for funding through its Children’s Mental Health Project, which was launched in Canada in 2008 and has committed more than $16 million to support early intervention and public education programmes.

The deadline for submitting proposals is 31 October. The timing of the initiative corresponds with World Mental Health Month, which is observed in October. RBC Royal Bank of Canada has two branches in the Cayman Islands.

“Most mental health problems start in childhood or adolescence, and the good news is that many children improve with early intervention and treatment,” said Dr. David Wolfe, RBC chairman of Children’s Mental Health at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. “But it’s absolutely crucial for parents, doctors and teachers to have a basic level of mental health IQ so they can recognise the warning signs if a child is struggling at an early age.”

The project’s goal is to provide funding to community-based and hospital programmes that are dedicated to improving the health and well-being of children, RBC wrote in a news release announcing the programme’s extension into the Caribbean. Questions put to a regional RBC spokeswoman regarding how much funding would be awarded to groups in the Caribbean, and specifically the Cayman Islands, as well as a timetable for their allocation were not responded to by press time.

In the Cayman Islands and throughout the Caribbean there is a need to dispel the myths about mental illness and to educate the region about the signs and symptoms of such issues in children, the news release read.

RBC has said it is interested in supporting organisations whose education programmes increase understanding and awareness, as well as provide access to credible information in order to reduce the social stigma about children’s mental health issues. The financial institution said these organisations form a network of trusted sources of information that help parents and health-care professionals globally.

“Through The RBC Children’s Mental Health Project, RBC hopes to partner with other organisations to enable children diagnosed with mental health disorders to overcome issues and focus on a positive future,” said Jason Waters, RBC’s area vice president in the Cayman Islands.

According to “Healthy Kids Inside and Out: The 2011 RBC Children’s Mental Health Survey”, which was published in October 2011, two-thirds of parents said that attention deficit and behaviour disorders are among the top three mental health issues they face today. After identifying the highest priorities for improving children’s mental health, parents focus on access to and coordination of services, the survey of 2,556 parents continued.

An updated survey is due out later this month.

RBC is Canada’s largest bank by assets and market capitalisation. The company employees about 80,000 full- and part-time employees who serve more than 15 million clients worldwide. In addition to the pair of local branches, RBC Royal Bank of Canada also has Royal Bank of Canada Trust Company (Cayman) Limited and RBC Dominion Securities Inc. in the Cayman Islands.

“RBC provides assistance to a range of programmes dedicated to the development of ‘the whole child’,” said Perry Rombough, RBC’s manager of business banking in the Cayman Islands. “The importance of healthy mental and physical development for children cannot be overestimated. Ensuring the well-being and emotional health of children throughout our communities is a priority for RBC through this programme.”

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