Alpha Infant achieved another milestone in its efforts to promote mental health and wellbeing among students through the launch of a play therapy room!
Play therapy is a form of psychotherapy which helps persons (mainly children) to process and express their emotions and communicate problems they are facing, through play. Although widely hailed abroad for its effectiveness, it is yet to catch on fully in Jamaica. Fortunately, Dr. Claudette Crawford-Brown, a senior lecturer at the University of the West Indies (Mona), is on a mission to change this and believes that forward-thinking schools, like Alpha Infant, can lead the way in making this therapy more accessible to local children who need it.
Our nation’s children are faced with numerous challenges such as violence, abuse, loss, separation from parents, anger issues and anxiety. Left untreated, children who suffer from such issues are made to shoulder the resulting mental health effects alone and, too often, resort to negative coping mechanisms which hurt themselves and others. Recognising this, Dr. Crawford-Brown has partnered with Alpha Infant to give our pupils the extra support they may need through play therapy.
On May 1, 2023, Alpha Infant’s play therapy room was launched. This creatively designed space (which allows children to explore, play, and learn about themselves and the world around them), features an art corner, feelings board, puppet theatre, dress up corner, various toys and much, much more.
Dr. Crawford-Brown and her team work to meet children on their level and give them the space and tools needed to make sense of and communicate their respective feelings and situations – which they would otherwise be unable to articulate in regular settings. Students may choose different toys and activities to act out what’s bothering them and soothe themselves while doing so; thus, allowing the play therapists to properly diagnose issues and find ways of meeting their specific needs.
We believe this could go a long way towards addressing children’s individual problems as well as wider societal issues which fall within the Sisters of Mercy’s critical concerns such as non-violence and anti-racism. Through the efforts of these skilled therapists and ongoing work of our staff (some of whom are being trained to deliver play therapy themselves), Alpha Infant continues the Mercy mission to help our little ones grow into healthy, resilient adults who can confidently navigate life’s many ups and downs.