Nov 03, 2018 News Comments Off on Health sector records increased mental health diagnosis …but stigma continues to be a deterrent to treatment – Psychiatrist
The public health sector has been able to diagnose an increased number of people, suffering from mental disorders.
This is according to Resident Psychiatrist, Dr. Colleen Bovell, who, however, noted, “I don’t know if that is because before we had very few specialists and people were not being diagnosed as much or if there is an actual increase in the numbers.”
Without giving specific figures, Dr. Bovell noted that it is reflective of both adults and youths alike. However, she did speak of plans in the pipelines to prepare a research proposal that will help to ensure Guyana has credible data regarding its mental illness situation.
“I have noticed we often use data from all around the world, but we need our own data to structure our plan for treatment, and how we go forward based on what we have here. We might have some similarities, but I am going to get our data,” Dr. Bovell assured.
What Dr. Bovell was able to ascertain though, is that there continues to be a daunting stigma attached to the notion of mental illness.
Operating out of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, Dr. Bovell has seen one too many instances where persons who have been so diagnosed have opted to not be treated for fear of being ridiculed by society. But this dilemma, which has been hurting the health sector’s attempt at reducing the scourge of mental illness, must become a thing of the past, the Psychiatrist said.
As she emphasised that “the stigma associated with mental health is still very high,” Dr. Bovell disclosed that the public health sector has embraced a tactical move to reverse this trend.
With education as the primary focus, she disclosed that deliberate efforts are being made to increase public awareness, not only about the disease, but also how it can be properly treated.
In fact she underscored the importance of persons being able to quickly detect symptoms associated with disease, so that they can gain the attention of medical experts at an early stage.
This is particularly important since, according to Dr. Bovell, many mental health disorders are known to start during the teenage years.
“Many disorders begin as early as 14 years and if you take that problem into adulthood it can impact the country economically. But once someone with mental illness is identified early they can get help,” said Dr. Bovell.
It was for this very reason, she noted that during the observance of World Mental Health Day on October 10, last, focus was given to young people and mental health to emphasise the need to ensure that this faction of the population are properly targeted too.
To achieve this goal, Dr. Bovell said that it is crucial for the public health sector to work in close collaboration with non-governmental organisations, since reaching people with mental illness could be more efficient through referrals.
“We need to have persons who can refer patients; we need people out there, because it is not possible to have a psychiatrist or psychologist at each school,” said Dr. Bovell.
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