Ills of society linked to mental conditions – Dr Frank Beckles
–need for amplified awareness
“One can safely say that mental illness has a part to play in the level of violence and other
ills that occur in the society today.” This assertion was made by practising psychiatrist Dr Frank Beckles.
He said during an interview, that mental health illness plays a role in everything, including the bad things in which individuals engage, because “it is your brain that is off balance, so to speak; it is chemically deprived… especially when you see a family member set a house ablaze with children inside or a man murders his wife or children…”
It has been ascertained that mental health services are not only needed but are very crucial. According to Dr Beckles, “The need is certainly there and recognised.”
Health professionals have over the years been able to deduce that good mental health, like physical health, is crucial to the wellbeing of any individual.
However, there are some who are of the belief that even today enough is not being done to address this glaring health challenge. Dr Beckles, who has been practising psychiatry in Guyana for more than a decade, is in fact one such person.
Although there are reports of a few others practising locally in the field of psychiatry this has not relieved the psychiatrist of the conviction that more resources should be directed to help address this health challenge.
He is however convinced that many in authority are perhaps not willing to plug the requisite amount of resources into this area in order to build a proper and adequate enough service.
He noted that those in authority are not the only ones that must help to emphasise the importance of mental health services. He said that the church plays a peculiar role in this area. “Often people would rather go first to the church (religious entities)…That was always the case and later on they end up at the psychiatrists or at the public hospital if they make it that far.”
Although Dr Beckles has been providing mental health services through his private practice, the service is also offered through the Ministry of Health at no cost to patients. It has, however, been deduced that many persons are either not aware of the available service or are simply afraid of the stigma attached to accessing such services.
Dr Beckles has revealed that time and again he has been forced to reassure patients that visiting a psychiatrist does not make them any less a human being.
In fact, he pointed out that there is need for immense edification. Even teachers in the education system should be trained to detect some signs of mental illnesses. Among the clients that Dr Beckles has seen over the years are children and according to him “the onus is also on parents to recognise these issues in their children. It is not only about recognising physical injuries but also the mental problems they have…”
At the moment, the psychiatrist is convinced that the information being disseminated to the public is limited. “People to this day feel that if they have to come to a psychiatrist they are mad and so education in general is needed. The radio, television and the press need to highlight topics on mental illness and mental health intervention a lot more. ”
However, he is comforted by the fact that there is evidence to suggest that there is a growing appreciation by some members of the public, particularly when they see the level of physical violence that is occurring in the society.