The Bahamas Has Made Significant Improvements with Mental Health

The Minister of Health the Hon. Dr. Perry Gomez said he was truly amazed at the significant improvements that The Bahamas has made as a nation with respect to mental health over the past 60 years.  The Health Minister was speaking at the Diamond Jubilee Anniversary Opening Ceremony held at the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, Thursday, September 1, 2016.

Dr. Gomez said the Diamond Jubilee Committee should therefore be commended for encapsulating the issues and solution to mental health in the Bahamas in such a timely theme, “Promoting Stigma Eradication, empowerment and advocacy for the mentally ill”.

“This is certainly a theme of inclusion that clearly outlines and addresses the responsibility we all share with respect to mental health.”

Dr. Gomez noted that for most Bahamians living in a post World War II era, mental illness was a mysterious, frightening condition that was shunned, and those suffering from severe symptoms of mental illness, were sometimes met with a hostile attitude.

“Nothing could sum this experience up more succinctly than the derisive name of the ‘Crazy Hill’ for the mental health wards at what was then the Bahamas General Hospital. Sadly, this stigma has persisted.”

Dr. Gomez said recognizing and appreciating the unique differences between mental health rehabilitation and medical-surgical health care, is the key to appreciating the unique mandate Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre must fulfil and the complex role this institution plays in the Bahamian community.

“The Centre has for decades set the standard for out-patient and in-patient care for residents with the ultimate aim of assisting patients to attain and maintain their optimum level of functioning and become productive citizens.”

He said psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, clinical psychologists, allied health professionals, social workers and support staff all play a role as team members.

“This multi-disciplinary approach has come to represent one of the quality indicators commonly used internationally in the evaluation and comparison of mental health services; and it is an indication that Sandilands continues to lead the way with the provision of care to the mentally ill and developmentally challenged.”

The Health Minister said he is pleased to say that the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre not only has a 60-year history of providing quality mental health services, but it also has a 60 year history of directly and consistently combating stigma and raising awareness of mental health issues in the community.

“Towards this end, we have also developed and implemented the mental health gap, a programme that is aimed at integrating mental health services in the community clinics. This will provide for the early detection and treatment of mental illnesses and reduce the incidents of hospitalization.

He said the History Wall that was unveiled during the ceremony shows the journey of the Sandilands Hospital from two wards in 1956 to 12 wards and at least 15 services in 2016.

“This is an achievement of which the country can be justifiably proud,” Dr. Gomez said.

History Wall

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