Sep 27, 2021 News
Kaieteur News- As suicide continues to be a serious problem in Guyana, Minister of Public Health (MOPH), Dr. Frank Anthony, recently stated that a more robust system is needed to help identify depression, which he believes will help reduce the country’s suicide rate.
During an interview with Globespan, the Minister made the statement to which he added that there are several things that needs to be done to help prevent suicide.
Dr. Anthony stated, “As part of mental health, we do have a challenge with suicide. Guyana has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world, and over the past 20 years we have been working to reduce those numbers but it is still a big problem…”
According to the Minister, depression is the leading cause of suicide in the country. Depression is a common and serious medical illness which negatively affects how someone feels the way they think and how they act.
According to the Minister, depression often goes undiagnosed at the primary health care level and as such, depression should be the primary focus for suicide prevention to tackle the issue in a more systemic way.
“We need to build a more robust system, where, if people come to our health care facilities, that we are able to detect depression which is one of the pre curses for people committing suicide,” the Minister stated.
The doctor further noted, that mental health has got to be an integral component of what the Government delivers at the primary health care level. He noted that to help achieve this, doctors, nurses and other health care personnel at the primary level will have to be trained to be able to address issues of mental health.
“And not only depression but all of the other forms of mental health,” Dr. Anthony stated.
Mental health deals with a human being emotional, psychological, and social well-being. There is mental illness also called mental health disorders, which involves different types of mental health conditions – disorders that affect someone’s mood, thinking and behaviour. Some examples of mental illness are; depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviours.
The Minister disclosed that a Mental Health Unit was set up in his Ministry which is made up of psychologists and psychiatrists while adding that they will soon roll out a comprehensive national programme.
Moreover, Dr. Anthony added, that next month his Ministry will be launching a number of programmes in collaboration with Columbia University, a center for the World Health Organisation (WHO) for mental health.
The Minister further noted that the University will be set up here, and that a number of programmes will be implemented with the use of the University’s expertise. He said too, that the Health Ministry and the University will be conducting studies on the Corentyne, and other parts of Guyana.
Additionally, the Minister also stated that one visible epidemic in Guyana is substance abuse, which he explained ranges from alcohol abuse to hard drugs.
“I think in many of the communities across the country you would find persons who have become drug addicts…we need to come up with a better system of how we can identify these persons and work with them to rehabilitate them,” Minister Anthony said.
In conclusion, the Minister praised the Salvation Army and Phoenix recovery, for the programmes they are currently offering to help with the substance abuse epidemic. Minister Anthony further stated that substance abuse can be seen under the rubric of mental health and as such, the Ministry will be making more efforts to help with this issue too.
The following are toll-free crisis hotlines that are available to members of the public who may be feeling suicidal or may have mental health issues; the telephone numbers (592) 223-0001, 223-0009, 623-4444 or 600-7896.
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