National Mental Health strategy to be launched early 2015

Inside the mental facility.
Some of the patients at the National Psychiatric Hospital in Fort Canje, Region Six.
Some of the patients at the National Psychiatric Hospital in Fort Canje, Region Six.

[] – With the aim of declining Guyana’s suicide rate and promoting mental health, the Ministry of Health has embarked on an action plan which is expected to be formally launched next February.

Minister of Health Dr. Bheri Ramsaran said, Guyana being described as the world capital for suicide, explained that over the past few months the ministry has been placing emphasis on mental health. He was at the time speaking at an event to mark Mental Health Day, on Friday at Ramphal House, Shiv Chanderpaul Drive.

Two significant areas of health in Guyana are relatively on the back burner, disabilities and rehab medicine and mental health, however, “in recent years, I have been trying to bring them up to scratch. Earlier in the year a workshop was held to train almost 200 workers in various ministries etc, in recognising depression and suicide tendencies, the police, doctors and nurses and the education sector were involved,” Minister Ramsaran said.

Minister of Health Dr. Bheri Ramsaran addressing gathering during Mental Health Day discussions of preventing suicide and promoting mental health in Guyana.

Inside the mental facility.
Inside the mental facility.

He said mental health and suicide is not only the job of the Ministry, but it is everyone’s business.

Recently a trained psychiatrist conducted training at Cara Lodge, training 88 persons inclusive of some who were involved in training earlier this year.

The Health Minister said, “We recognise that we need to have a strategy. Our psychiatrist and his team have been looking at what should be done as part of this strategy. This is the beginning of a national conversation …by 2015, we will have a new strategy and there will be many other activities coming up.”

Over the next few months several other activities will be carried out in favour of this cause. The government will also be partnering with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) on this project, which is expected to be launched next February.

Dr. Bhiro Harry, Psychiatrist at the Georgetown Public Hospital, said Guyana has been suffering like most other countries because there has not been any strong backing for mental health, where human and financial resources are concerned.

He said while some works have been done, it can be agreed that Guyanese have not benefitted enough. However, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) template and guidelines are being followed to ensure this project is effectively carried out. A lot of consultation was also done to formulate ideas for the prelude presentation.

Dr Bhiro Harry, Psychiatrist at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation addressing the gathering on mental health in Guyana.

The mission of the project is to encourage good mental health in all Guyanese through the provision of effective, integrated and inter-sectoral mental health strategies and services and the goal is to promote mental health well-being, prevent disorders, offer care and enhance recovery, promote human rights, reduce morbidity, disability and mortality for people with mental health disorders.

The priorities of the plan are to fight against suicide and promote good mental health include providing comprehensive and responsive mental health and social care in communities.

“We are going to take what we have and transform the Georgetown Hospital’s psychiatric center into a psychiatric rehabilitation complex,” Dr. Harry said.

Strategies will also be implemented for mental health promotion, protection and prevention and here Dr. Harry stressed on having a mental health programme in schools.

United Nations Resident Representative, Dr. William Adu-Krow, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Shamdeo Persaud and others were present at the event. [Extracted and modified from GINA]






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