Mental health foundation begins programmes for teens and children

Cayman’s leading youth mental health advocacy group is gaining momentum with the addition of two new programmes tailored to the needs of

Shane Purcell, Alex Panton Foundation

young adults, teens and children.

The Alex Panton Foundation recently launched a peer-led support group for young adults ages 18 to 25.

The free weekly sessions at the George Town Town Hall offers youth a confidential outlet to cope with anxiety and depression, while building life skills.

Trained facilitator Shane Purcell coordinates the group. Purcell worked previously in the mental health sector with Aware and St. James Hospital in Ireland.

He wants young people who attend his sessions to feel a sense of empowerment and to build resiliency.

The concept behind peer-led support groups is to allow participants to share their experiences and to receive advice from individuals in similar situations.

“A lot of people find it hard to open up to friends or family, so [the group is] basically another avenue for them to express their feelings but also to learn coping mechanisms,” Purcell said.

“When you’re in there, you feel like you’re not alone and you also listen to other people about suggestions and ideas.”

The group meets Saturdays from 3-4:30pm at the George Town Town Hall across from the library. All participants sign a confidentiality agreement to ensure the privacy of others.

Children’s programme

The foundation will also be launching another initiative, aimed at children ages 5-9, on Monday night, 17 June.

The ‘Zippy’s Friends’ and ‘Apple’s Friends’ programmes, developed by the UK’s Partnership for Children, aims to develop social and emotional well-being in young people by teaching them communication and coping skills. Students learn about feelings, friendship and conflict, among other topics, through stories, discussion, games and role playing.

“With this programme, we’re trying to target 400 students a year and the whole idea of it is that we go into schools and train up the teachers to be able to incorporate this programme into their school schedule,” Purcell said.

He sees the programme helping children develop social skills, emotional intelligence and resiliency that will empower them later in life.

The Alex Panton Foundation will hold a launch event for the programme Monday at 4-5:30pm at Cayman Islands Hospital’s Hibiscus Conference Room. The programme itself is expected to begin in schools this September.

Other upcoming events by the foundation include the InStyle Cayman fashion show and fundraiser at The Ritz-Carlton on 28 June and the Sweet Dreams Pijama-Cocktail Party at Bacaro on 22 June.

The ‘Young Men at Risk’ workshops are held regularly at locations islandwide.

For more information about the school programmes, email [email protected] To view a full listing of events, visit

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