Mental Health Awareness Foundation to Launch with Film Premier and Symposium

February will see the official launch of a new mental health awareness foundation, focused on Cayman’s children and young adults, with two kick off events.

The Alex Panton Foundation, a not-for-profit with the primary objective of raising awareness of mental illnesses affecting children and young adults in the Cayman Islands, will officially launch during Children’s Mental Health Week.

“The Alex Panton Foundation aims to provide hope and resources to friends, family, teachers, classmates, and carers to help save the lives of children and young adults struggling with mental illness,” Alex Panton Foundation chairman, Jane Panton, said.

“This Foundation has been established in memory of my vivacious son, Alex, who succumbed to the effects of severe depression at the age of 16.”

To help spread key information about the mission of the foundation, the short film ‘Hidden’ has been created to build awareness around mental illness by highlighting how those suffering can be misunderstood and left with the feeling of being alone.

“The film was produced by some of Alex’s closest friends and directed by Pascal Pernix,” Mrs. Panton said. “They have worked incredibly hard to ensure that the film highlights some of the various manifestations of mental illness as well as some of the more subtle indicators and effects that young adults are dealing with when fighting a mental illness.”

“By ensuring that the premier is free to attend, we really hope that schools and other youth groups come out to learn how they can use their voice to help end the stigma around mental illness and support each other,” Mrs. Panton said.

“Hidden aims to highlight the many faces of mental illness. Mental illness IS here, it’s real, and it needs to be discussed. I think it’s so important to listen to our youth, allow them to be heard and to take their symptoms seriously,” writer of Hidden, Kaylyn Bodden, said.

“Symptoms of mental illness often go unnoticed and overlooked. It is so vital to pay attention to the behaviors, mannerisms and words of our sons, daughters, peers and students that need our help,” Ms. Bodden said.

The ‘Hidden’ film premier takes place on 8th February 2018, 6:00pm at the Camana Bay Cinema.

Following the film premier, the Alex Panton Foundation Launch: Youth Mental Health symposium will take place on Alex’s birthday, February 10th, from 2 – 5pm at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort.

“The symposium will feature several speakers from various perspectives on mental illness in Cayman’s youth and young adults, including persons living with the illness, parents, counsellors and mental health service providers showcasing various forms of treatment,” Mrs. Panton said. “We hope that by raising the profile of local mental health services and resources, persons suffering from mental illness will know where to turn for help or advice.”

Attendees of the symposium will include service users, parents, professionals, youth workers, teachers/learning mentors, carers, and other agencies. Following the symposium there will be a chance to socialize and exchange ideas during the social hour.

“We are also launching a survey at the symposium, supported by the Mental Health Commission and we hope the results will help us provide resources to friends, family, teachers, classmates, and carers to help them support those young people with mental illness,” Mrs. Panton said.

“By increasing the visibility of the Foundation, its mission and the support services locally available, we hope to further enlighten and empower our community on this critical topic.”

While both events are free to attend, it is asked that those interested in attending RSVP in advance on the foundation website at alexpantonfoundation.ky.

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