Persons with Mental Challenges Should Seek Help Without Having to Face Ridicule

Persons must seek to get professional help if they realize that they are having mental challenges, whether caused by duress or resulting from a change in the brain’s chemistry or related to a congenital or developmental challenge, said Chairman of the Public Hospitals Authority, Senator the Hon. Frank Smith.

“Experience and statistical evidence suggests that mental health interventions do have an impact; but stigma must not be allowed to continue to prevent those needing counselling, medication and other therapies from accessing care because they are more concerned with being labelled by family members, friends, neighbours, employers and the wider community.”

Mr. Smith was speaking at the Commissioning Ceremony for the Community Counselling & Assessment Centre, Collins Avenue, Wednesday, April 26, 2017.

Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie; Managing Director, PHA, Herbert Brown and other distinguished guests were also in attendance.

Mr. Smith noted that every day, efforts are being made to reduce stigma and discrimination with respect to mental illness; and the important work must continue until erroneous beliefs regarding those dealing with mental health disorders no longer create barriers to care and treatment.

“One approach to diminishing stigma, and creating the understanding desired, is to design promotional campaigns via Radio, Television, Newspapers and Social media similar to crime stoppers and other initiatives where the language, and message is easily assimilated that there is no shame in needing mental health care.

Mr. Smith said the recent initiatives and accomplishments in Mental Health such as the WHO Mental Health Gap Action Program (mhGap) program and mental health services accessed through the primary care centres, and community clinics continue to be a frontline detection method of mental health challenges and episodes; which when detected can eventually be treated by trained professionals within our mental health services with the goal of returning that individual back to normalcy as a remedy is effected.

He said the Colombo program is another such initiative with the objective of enhancing drug treatment, drug use prevention, and the training of Policing and Correctional professionals in detecting and dealing with persons suffering from addiction disorders.

“I am pleased to report that earlier this month 13 officers from the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services, four educators and supervisors from the Ministry of Education successfully completed the first Colombo Echo Training program.

“This points to yet another initiative undertaken by Sandilands, in collaboration with the US Embassy and Department of State, to address the persistent demand for effective intervention with respect to addiction out of the means available to combat mental health issues.”

The Chairman explained that with the advent of NHI and its linkages with Mental Health Services, it is anticipated that chronic health conditions among the mentally ill will be more speedily addressed.

“Too often with the progression of mental disorders the communication between care givers and patients becomes diminished, and unfortunately patient recognition of medical onsets are often delayed, and not immediately communicated.  This unfortunately leads to detection of serious medical conditions at a more advanced stage than would normally occur,” he said.

“Indeed, I am pleased that the development of community-based mental health services will not be limited to this new building, which is larger, modern, and equipped to more efficiently house the work of community counselling than its predecessors.

“Rather this facility should be viewed as an exciting launching pad for strategic outreach into communities that will result in an impactful presence throughout our primary care networks and other innovative avenues,” Mr. Smith said.

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