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The Ministry of Health will host a four-day mental health and well-being conference from November 15-18. The event which is expected to see participation of at least 20 international mental health experts along with Guyanese in the field will be held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre. Participants are from the Caribbean, Australia, South Africa, Europe, the United States, and Asia, along with local experts.
The conference is billed to tackle mental health challenges here. Persons who are interested in learning more about mental health and suicide are urged to register and attend the session or join the conference online.
Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony said the conference will be the second of its kind and will highlight the importance of mental health in Guyana, the Caribbean, and the world.
“Mental health is something that is often not spoken about a lot but in terms of morbidity, we are seeing lots of people who suffer from various types of mental health illnesses and this is something that we want to draw attention to because over the years there have been lots of research that have been done and there are newer techniques on how to work with patients with mental health… and sometimes people are not aware that these techniques exist, new treatments exist and therefore what this conference is going to do is to highlight some of these newer ways of working with patients,” Dr Anthony said.
The mental health issue in Guyana, the minister said, is largely underestimated since many people do not access help until their issues are severe.
Foremost, is the passage of new mental health legislation, as the previous one is dated back to 1930. The minister said a lot has changed since then in medical science and treatment methods.
This new law will make things better for mental health patients.
“The new legislation is centred more on patients’ rights and to treat them much better than what the previous legislation would have contemplated, and this is very progressive, this is modern. This, is what is happening in the more enlightened jurisdictions so this is what we are implementing here,” the health minister said
Currently, there are approximately 200 persons at the National Psychiatric Hospital, who do not necessarily have to be there. However, the health minister said measures have to be taken to return them to their homes.
“The new way of treating mental health patients is to make them at home in the community and for them to function like a normal person, because once they get their treatment, they are able and capable of functioning like anybody else, and we shouldn’t be locking them away, they should be functioning in the society as regular people,” Dr. Anthony asserted.