Aug 12, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – A modern Mental Health Protection and Promotion Bill was passed in the National Assembly, prioritising the rights of mental health patients in Guyana.
This Bill repeals the Mental Health Ordinances of 1930. Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony told the National Assembly on Monday that the 1930 Ordinance allowed for persons with mental health issues to be discriminated against on the basis that they were threats to society. “The way that we do mental health in Guyana, we need to overhaul the entire system and this Bill would provide that overarching architecture to allow us to do the overhaul that is necessary to bring the practice of psychiatry in Guyana into the modern world,” Minister Anthony said.
He explained that, “the standards that this Bill allow us to set and would pull us out from the dark ages of how psychiatry was practised back in the 1930s, to the modern world, and therefore this Bill is essential for us to move forward and to modernise the practice of psychiatry and to protect our patients who are affected by mental health disorder.”
According to the minister, the new legislation, which saw inputs from local and international stakeholders, brings a modern approach to the way that mental health patients are treated including respect for their rights.
However, the minister recognised that the legislation must be complemented by cultural and societal changes. “Persons diagnosed with mental health illnesses are often stereotyped as being mad, persons considered mad, are therefore persons to be avoided or to be rejected, many families with persons who have mental health issues are embarrassed by this diagnosis and some are even fearful of the patients,” Dr. Anthony said.
He declared therefore, “…this vicious cycle of how we perceive people, how people do not have access to care and treatment can lead to more discrimination, to more stigmatisation and violation of people’s fundamental human rights, very often persons with mental health issues can be denied their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and this is a serious matter.” The health minister said the negative societal perception of people who do have access to care and treatment can lead to more discrimination. The minister noted too that sometimes institutional indifference can result in physical, psychological, and sometimes even sexual abuse of persons with mental health disorders.
According to Dr. Anthony, part four of the Bill clauses 13-22, is devoted to protecting the human rights of patients with mental illnesses. It, therefore, aligns with all the major international instruments relating to the rights of people with mental health disorders.
In supporting the Bill, Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Anil Nandlall said this is a much-needed legislation. He stated that it is long overdue while explaining it is the “most modern expression of public health legislation in the Caribbean region”.
In addition to the Mental Health Protection and Promotion Bill, the Government has put forward the Suicide Prevention Bill, which has been tabled in the National Assembly. In his presentation, Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony said the Suicide Prevention Bill is among several legislative amendments in the health sector that will improve service delivery locally and will aid efforts to curb suicide.
He said, “This is a Bill that we have been working on for some time and that is, it encompasses things we can do to prevent suicide. The Bill also provides for the repeal of a section of our law that criminalizes persons who attempt suicide. This has been something people have been advocating for a long time…”
Minister Anthony noted too that while the rate of suicide in Guyana has been decreasing, suicide remains a serious mental health problem. According to the Bill’s explanatory memorandum, the law, once passed, would provide for a Suicide Prevention Commission, which would include the Chief Medical Officer, Chief Psychiatrist, Director of the Childcare and Protection Agency, and other members to be appointed by the minister.
The Bill, listed as Bill No. 11 of 2022, also provides for the preparation of the National Suicide Prevention Plan that will include an overview of suicide in Guyana including quantifying the number of suicide-related deaths, methods used, and the high-risk factors for suicide.
Sep 28, 2022– Last chance to make finale tonight By Sean Devers Kaieteur News – A lethal 91 from Man-of-the-Match, Rakeem Cornwall, an explosive 52 from Azam Khan along with 3-17 from Ramon Simmonds...
Sep 28, 2022
Sep 28, 2022
Sep 28, 2022
Sep 28, 2022
Sep 28, 2022
Kaieteur News – The fisherfolk who are each receiving a fishing grant of G$150,000 should be very circumspect in cheering... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – “Every bullet, every bomb, every shell that hits a target in Ukraine, hits... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]