Tobago sheds light on mental health

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Tobago sheds light on mental health

One in four persons suffer from mental health, yet it remains a stigmatised area of our lives.

This current figure stems from the World Health Organisation in light of World Mental Health Day, on October 10. 

This year’s global theme is ‘Mental Health for All: Greater Investment – Greater Access’. Now more than ever, with the life changes of COVID-19, the mental health care system is being asked to do more for people.

Secretary of Health, Wellness and Family Development, Councillor Tracy Davidson-Celestine says: “We never think it can be us. I have known people too. We often feel powerless to help. Nearly everyone knows of someone who has been challenged by mental health and some people suffer silently.

The Secretary points out that we need to seek help for those who are unable to: “Our systems and attitude havebeen changing slowly, we need to embrace this as a real problem and not just discounted as behaviour “as he/she playing the fool, nothing aint wrong with them nah”.

Recently the Secretary urged the Tobago public to use the telephone counselling service set up for people dealing with depression, experiencing continuous and overwhelming emotions, anxiety and mental health challenges as a result of the COVID-19 impact on individuals. “We have had a number of people call in to use this service. It offers complete confidentiality.”  

The Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) in Tobago, the governing health institution on the island, offers Mental Health Services at seven districts / facilities on the island for persons in need or those who may want to check on their mental health. Some of the services include:

Psychiatric Assessment and Treatment
Psychotherapy and Counselling
Occupational Therapy
Substance Abuse Clinic
Memory/ Alzheimer’s Clinic

According to the Head, Mental Health Department at the Scarborough General Hospital, Dr. SreenivasuluMallakunta, while services are well utilised, major problems do present.

He says: “Some of the major challenges faced when caring for persons with a mental illness are the non-compliance of patients with the medication.” He adds: “The stigma attached to mental health; and the comorbidities with other substance use, are common situations. We need to promote mental health awareness to help people cope with stigma.”