The improvement of mental health service within the public health sector must be premised on three pillars inclusive of infrastructure, financial investment and the requisite specialists, according to President Bharrat Jagdeo.
At the moment efforts are geared at developing a strategic plan for mental health but according to the President “it is taking a long time. We are having all of the best consultations and advice from around the world but what do we really need to address people who require support in the mental health sector?
We need a better auspice than the one that we have now, we need to invest a bit more money there and we need to get more professionals trained in the sector so that they can deal with people who are mentally ill.”
The President’s remarks were forthcoming on Friday when he delivered the feature address at the launch of the Educational Television Broadcasting Service. He pointed to the fact that there is a dire need for more specialists in the field such as psychiatrists to actually attend to mental health patients, adding that while strategic development plans all have their place, they however mean very little when initiatives do not support them. “You can spend four years on developing a strategic plan but if you don’t address those three things, it will not make any difference in the sector,” President Jagdeo asserted.
In an attempt to bolster the mental health capacity of the public health system, a total of eight nurses are currently being trained in the area of Psychiatry through an initiative which is being undertaken through the collaborative efforts of the Ministry of Health and the Dalhousie University and Ministry of Health of Nova Scotia, Canada.
Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, revealed recently that the nurses have been engaged in intense training at the New Amsterdam Hospital. The training, he said, are characterised by a combination of distance learning and in-class supervised sessions. He explained that the nurses are provided with a series of lessons which they are tasked with internalising ahead of lecture sessions.
“Most of the day they are engaged in reading literature provided to them. Then they are exposed to lectures via conferencing with the overseas-based tutors.” In addition, they are given an opportunity to gain a hands-on feel of the wards, the Minister revealed, adding that every few months nurses from the Canadian Ministry of Health travel to Guyana to supervise the wards.
The training is expected to continue until January at which point the eight nurses will graduate as certified Mental Health Professionals equipped with the relevant skills and knowledge to deliver mental health service. The first nine months of the programme, according to Minister Ramsammy, is designed to ensure that the nurses are theoretically prepared for the following three months which will entail them operating on a full-time basis in the wards. As part of their training, too, the nurses are tasked with keeping logs of what they do on a daily basis. “The nurses have indicated that the training is much more than they had anticipated.
The whole process is very innovative and we will continue this even after these nurses would have completed this training programme. We are thinking about using this same training model not just for the mental health nurses but for other level of workers as well,” the Minister disclosed.
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