NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS — The Ministries of Health and Social Development in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) are, this year, collaborating for the commemoration of International Day of Older Persons and World Mental Health Day, observed on October 1 and October 10 respectively.
In a televised address to mark the observance of World Mental Health Day, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health in the NIA Hon. Mark Brantley noted that the World Federation for Mental Health’s 2013 theme, “Mental health and older adults,” brings attention to the lengthening life span in developed and developing countries and associated mental health conditions.
Depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia are the principal health conditions affecting older persons, Minister Brantley said, adding that in 2011, persons older than the age of 60 accounted for 25 per cent of new cases of mental health issues.
Brantley, who is also the Senior Minister responsible for Social Development, reaffirmed the NIA’s commitment to providing the highest standard of care to the island’s seniors.
“Mental illnesses and physical illnesses, such as diabetes and hypertension, often co-exist in the same person. Knowing this, institutional care of the elderly such as that provided at the 38-bed, government-run Flamboyant Nursing Home is comprehensive and addresses needs in a holistic manner. Our elder persons deserve to live their remaining years in dignity,” he said.
He called on residents of Nevis to foster a society of caring with the understanding that mental health issues can affect any one.
“Whilst the focus is on our elderly…illness of any sort is no respecter of persons and I, therefore, call on us all to embrace those among us who suffer from mental health issues and partner with caregivers to ensure that they obtain proper treatment. There is no room in our society for stigma and discrimination.
“Cognizant of the need for government to address the mental health needs of persons of all ages, the Ministry of Health, through its Mental Health Unit, continues to provide a range of health services including mental health education, counselling, community- and institutional-based treatment services as well as a monthly outreach programme at Russell’s Rest Prison Farm. These services cover approximately 500 persons,” Brantley said.
Activities for Mental Health Awareness Week will include a televised discussion hosted by psychiatrist Dr. Sharon Halliday and the staff of NIA’s Mental Health Unit, an exhibition by the Red Cross Senior Citizens on Thursday, October 10, at the Red Cross Building and an outreach activity on Friday, October 11, at the Memorial Square.