Mental-health support group available for young adults

| 27/05/2019
CNS Local Life
Shane Purcell

(CNS Local Life): Cayman Islands’ first mental health peer-led support group for young adults, launched by the Alex Panton Foundation (APF) in April, is holding weekly meetings for people between the ages of 18 and 25 who are living with anxiety and depression. Sessions are held Saturdays from 3pm-4:30pm at the George Town Town Hall.

The free and confidential group has been developed to create a community for young adults to share their experiences with anxiety and depression, and the impact on their lives, in a safe, confidential and supportive environment, stated a press release from the foundation.

Shane Purcell, an APF board member, facilitates the group. Purcell is trained in mental health facilitation and has worked with the mental health support group Aware as well as support and self-care groups in St James Hospital, both in Ireland.

Since the APF’s inception in February 2018, and following its second annual Youth Mental Health Symposium in February this year, the foundation has received feedback from the community indicating the need for a peer-led support group. The APF launched the group to fulfil that need and this is just one of several initiatives the foundation is rolling out this year, the release said.

“I am excited to be bringing my extensive experience to facilitate the group and I believe it will be really well received,” Purcell said. “If you are a young person between the ages of 18-25 who is suffering from depression or anxiety, or know someone who is, then we encourage you to join us, in this welcoming, non-judgmental environment.”

Mental health peer-led support groups are widespread in many countries, such as the UK and US, and enable participants to share experiences as well as give and receive nonprofessional advice to and from individuals with similar conditions. They can provide benefits such as helping group members feel less lonely, isolated or judged and can enable a sense of empowerment through mutual support, APF said. They can also help with coping skills and create a safe place to talk openly and about very personal feelings, knowing that other members may be going through similar experiences and can relate. They can be an effective medium for sharing resources and information on things such as doctors, counsellors or treatment options.

APF chairperson Jane Panton said that the first step to overcoming one’s inner struggles is to talk about them, and discussing them in a safe, confidential and secure environment with others who are facing the same issues will help raise one’s confidence level to continue to find ways to heal their inner pain. She said she hopes that young people will take advantage of this outlet to express themselves while helping others at the same time.

For more information on the Alex Panton Foundation’s support group, email

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Category: Local News, Youth

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