LITTLE BAY – Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health & Social Services Elijah Silcott called the new National Mental Health Policy a “work in progress” as it was launched on Tuesday morning at the Montserrat Cultural Centre.
The policy covers 2015 to 2020 with a plan of action for 2015 to 2018.
The launch was timed to coincide with Mental Health Week activities on island and drew a cross section of community stakeholders as well as the Hon. Premier Donaldson Romeo, the Hon. Minister of Health Delmaude Ryan and Hon. Minister of Agriculture Claude Hogan.
Minister Ryan told the gathering that the mental health division was “grossly under resourced” and critical posts such as that of clinical psychologist needed to be filled. The minister also noted that there was an increase with students experiencing mental health challenges which needed to be addressed. She also said the current legislature which allows for the magistrate to imprison mentally ill patients is outdated.
PS Silcott added that the plan is for the mental health policy to be the driver that influences change such as what is needed to update the legislation. He said the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) is to assist with training to improve how all sectors of the health services handle mental health related cases.
Child Psychologist Dr. Shirley Kelly expressed during the open forum that a nation’s social systems are designed to nurture and empower the people. However, there is a need for technicians to look at how all government processes are administered to ensure they are not leading to increased mental pressure for residents.
Nurse Brenda Daley raised a concern that nurses may be unable to deliver the best care to violently ill patients who have been imprisoned because of fear once police officers drop them off at the hospital. She asked that the police be engaged to stick around and offer support so the nurses are not left on their own to handle them.
Community Mental Health Officer Marguerite Joseph said one of Montserrat’s strengths is a strong primary health care system. She also commended the government for achieving the goal of writing but also adopting the mental health policy.
The priority areas of the policy are:
- To enhance and formalise the national leadership, institutional and legislative structures for mental health services delivery in Montserrat.
- To promote the mental, social and emotional well being of the general population.
- Prevent mental illness where possible.
- Develop/enhance access to a well-coordinated comprehensive mental health service delivery system which responds to the diverse needs of the population.
- To improve the social and economic participation of people living with serious mental illness.
“Dignity in mental health” is the them of this year’s mental health week which culminates on October 10, 2015.