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May 2, 2013

Healthy Living relieves some stress

Given the high rates of unemployment and poverty, there is no doubt that many parents are under a lot of stress to provide for their families. Some can cope through help from family, friends or church, but others are left alone to battle. Although not widely publicized, there are governmental and non governmental agencies that are available to help struggling families. This week’s Healthy Living shares information on a few institutions that offer support services to the public.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

There are many organizations in Belize that offer services for families and children. Although there is help available, many of the service providers are not widely recognized. The National Committee for Families and Children is the coordinating body for organizations that provide services for families and children. Information, Education & Communications Officer, Stephanie Daniels-Moody shares some of the important support services that can be accessed by the public.


Stephanie Daniels-Moody

Stephanie Daniels-Moody, Information, Education & Communications Officer, NCFC

“Our role is to coordinate services on behalf of families and children and so we make sure that the services children and their families need; the links are made and that across the lifespan as the child grows, that there are no gaps in the interventions to make sure that they grow up healthy and happy and achieve their full potential. There are many services that cater to children and families, but as you have mentioned they are not widely known.”


Last year, the World Mental Health day focused on depression: a global crisis. The WHO projected that by 2020 depression would be the second leading cause of disability and a decade later the largest contributor to disease burden. In fact, statistics indicate that one in every four women is likely to have an episode of major depression at some point in life. What most Belizeans don’t know is that there are trained professionals who offer counseling services for those with mental health issues.


Stephanie Daniels-Moody

“The counseling center comes under the community rehabilitation department and they offer free counselling to families and children; particularly those who are in danger of coming in conflict with the law.”


For some adults, sexual and reproductive health rights education and services seem unnecessary or even premature; however, statistics say otherwise, in 2010, it was estimated that by the age of 18, one in every three teen girls would have given birth. In 2011, The Belize Family Life Association was on the verge of closing its doors due to lack of funding. Thankfully the organization has weathered that storm-at least for now- and still remains open today. The BFLA also offers counseling services to young people as well as provides education on important life skills.


Stephanie Daniels-Moody

“The Belize Family Life Association that offers—and they do a lot of awareness in terms of sexual and reproduction health; especially for teens who are going through that age where they need to understand their bodies and make important decisions. And then there is the Youth Enhancement Services, who offer support to teenage mothers. Parenting to an adult is difficult much less of a teenager who is still developing themselves. So they offer that support in terms of parenting and taking care of a child and adjusting to life as a parent while still developing yourself.”


Perhaps, the most commonly known organization is the human services department. They offer a wide array of services.


Stephanie Daniels-Moody

“They offer parenting support at the community level through their program; they offer economic support through the BOOST and Food Pantry that we all know a lot about. And they also offer family support services. They are the main contacts in terms of abuse cases. If you see or know of a child that is being abused, they are the persons to contact. The police department offers the legal aspect of this protection. And so while families in terms of coping with everyday challenges is not an easy task given our situations right now, there are all of these services that support parents and children. When there is need for help; that both those who need the help—that we take the initiative to get this help. And those who know the people that need the help; that we step up and point them to these services that are available.”


Since 1999, our Families and Children (Child Abuse Reporting) Regulations dictate that persons who work with or care for children are mandated to report suspected cases of abuse or neglect of children. The penalty can be a fine and/or imprisonment.


Stephanie Daniels-Moody

“Communities have a moral obligation to report cases of abuse especially if they have good reason to believe so. It is what’s called the good faith assumption. We don’t hold anybody accountable to go investigate cases, but if you have a suspicion there, there is a moral obligation for you to report to the department of human services or the police department in your area. And if the case is found to be true, you have no further involvement in that case. As well as if it turns out that it is not what you think it was, there is no legal ramifications for that as well. So we really need to encourage people to be our brother’s keepers and to look out for our children; it’s all of our responsibilities.”


The NCFC has a directory included in their website with a full listing of social services providers. That website is www dot n-c-f-c- dot org dot b-z. 

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