PHILIPSBURG:--- St. Martin needs homebred psychologists and social workers. This was the consensus that resounded from the third edition of the USM Seminar Seminar series last Thursday, 8 November. Entitled Mental Health and Psychology on St. Maarten, the event drew a crowd of 60, which interacted with six local organizations and three speakers to lead the public dialogue on the country’s post-hurricane situation, focussing especially on the themes of child psychology, parenting, violence, and addictions.
Panelists included School Counselor Jina Mahbubani, USM lecturer Fernando Richardson, and Clinical Psychologist Dr. Judith Arndell. All three had something to say about the wave of violence and incidences of drug and gambling addiction which the island St. Martin is currently experiencing, especially among the youth. During intermissions and in a community fair-like atmosphere, the public had the opportunity to meet representatives of the Mental Health Foundation, Alzheimer’s Foundation, Dr. J Enterprises, Turning Point and Ujima, the Red Cross, the Association of Psychologists and Allied Professionals, and the Court of Guardianship.
Co-sponsored by the Department of Interior and Kingdom Relations (BAK) and UNESCO St. Maarten, the evening began with some introductory words by Ms. Rose Pooram Fleming, who recalled the importance of using the framework of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals and particularly SDG 3, which promotes health and well-being.
USM Alumnus and Youth Social Worker Lenworth Wilson Jr. moderated the seminar with much enthusiasm. Following the presentations, Wilson asked the public whether or not there was a need for USM to offer degree programmes in Psychology and Social Work. The audience responded with a strong round of applause.
“The need has been squarely qualified, please take note Mr. President”, Wilson suggested to USM Rector Magnificus Dr. Antonio Carmona Báez.
Members of the audience raised questions about the need for more awareness, research, training in parenting and statistics. “Qualitative research is also an area where the university can contribute to the solution of the many mental health issues our community is facing”, said USM General Liberal Arts Division Head Leona Nestor-Hubert.
Since their appointments in May this year, both Dr. Carmona and USM Dean of Academics Dr. Rolinda Carter have expressed their desire to expand the University’s course offerings and degree programmes. “We hope to continue receiving government support to build these programmes which will be of great value to the community”, said Carmona last Thursday evening, thanking also the backing of private initiatives.
The USM Seminar Series was broadcasted live by CaniTV. As this recount went to press, over 400 people have seen (parts) of the public seminar from the comfort of their home via Facebook.