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While one may wonder whether someone has to write an open to the letter to the media addressed to some higher up in order for action to be taken with respect to issues plaguing his/her community Lisa Budhu would probably be gratified that some attention is being given to her appeal. However one would hope that the help being offered would neither be piecemeal not selective as there are umpteen need requirements by these Black Bush Polder communities; needs that have existed for years and for which a number of NGOs, including The Caribbean Voice, have made attempts to address within the scope of their limited resources. In fact, in many ways, BBP reflects a socio-economically depressed community overall.
Besides those touched upon by Lisa Budhu, there are other enervating issues that saturate Black Bush Polder including rape, mentioned by Ms. Budhu, along with incest, domestic violence, alcoholism, child abuse, lack of coping skills, depression, anxiety, low self esteem, suicide ideation and attempts, along with suicide itself, lack of coping skills, low self esteem.
So along with all the ideas mooted by various letter writers and all the promises made thus far by the First Lady and cabinet members there is critical need to also address these psycho-social issues.
For starters, there is need to have a psych ward with a counselor at the Mibicuri Hospital. As well BBP is ideal for both a lay counselor-training program that would ensure proactive mental health responders throughout every community and the Friendship bench manned by talk therapists, perhaps senior citizens as in Zimbabwe where this highly successful measure was pioneered. As well BBP is where the need is greatest for pesticide suicide training re safety of use, storage and disposal as well as steps to mitigate ingestion of poison while medical attention is being sought. BBP is certainly an area where counselors in schools are absolutely necessary, even if its one counselor serving the five schools as an initial effort.
The fact is BBP typifies the reality referenced in the 2018 Lancet Commission report on mental health and intensified by the pandemic which, among other things pointed out that mental disorders and related issues (suicide, rape/incest, child abuse, gender based violence, alcoholism and substance abuse) are on the rise globally resulting in massive economic costs including healthcare costs, crime costs, welfare costs, social costs, the costs to families (depression, anxiety, dysfunctional relationships, toxic behavior and so on) and the added burden to both cost and standards of living.
The simple fact is that when mental health care lags behind, it acts as a drag on all other sectors of the economy and overall quality of life. On the other hand, addressing these issues can reduce annual physical health care costs by 20 per cent as well as provide significant savings relating to crime, social life, welfare, families, over all dysfunction. Thus, in addition what is mentioned above, consideration should also be given to programs to address substance abuse, provide mentoring to the young and help for batterers and deal with relationship dysfunction and toxic masculinity.