Nevis Health Minister’s address on the occasion of World Mental Health Day 2015

NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS — The following is an address by Minister of Health in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) Hon. Mark Brantley on the occasion of World Mental Health Day 2015, observed annually on October 10th.

My fellow Nevisians, residents and visitors,

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I greet you on the occasion of the commemoration of World Mental Health Day, under the theme, “Dignity in Mental Health.”

This day, which is observed annually on the 10th of October, allows for mental health professionals, family members, friends and others to pay homage to the mentally ill, be it on the local, regional or international scene.

This year’s theme encourages the promotion of “dignity” through the development of human rights policy and law, training of health professionals, inclusion in decision making processes and public information campaigns.

From time immemorial, the mentally ill have been subjects of stigmatisation in a myriad of forms which include the assignment of labels such as “crazy”. They have also been on the receiving end of various acts of discrimination, marginalisation and even abuse – particularly physical and emotional. The mentally ill are oftentimes ostracised by society and have therefore been seen as outcasts.

At times, we fail to acknowledge that while some mental illnesses are hereditary, other illnesses develop due to the lack of mental fortitude to healthily overcome stressful situations. We tend to overlook that not all mental illnesses share the same indicators but the mentally ill, in general, are nevertheless stereotyped and perceived to be aggressive and violent.

The Ministry of Health is mindful of the challenges faced by the mentally ill, and the lack of understanding of mental health illness by some in our population and thus, our mandate is to continue to provide quality client-centred care while simultaneously providing information on mental health issues to the public, that will change societal attitudes and thus create a supportive environment for clients and their families.

To those being treated for mental illness, I urge you to comply with any and every course of treatment prescribed by your care management team, demonstrate respect for staff members and other healthcare providers, apply for jobs that you are adept at and qualified for, become involved in various religious and social activities. These activities will facilitate your recovery process, not only in the medical sense, but holistically as well.

As the Minister of Health, I must applaud the efforts of the staff at the Nevis Mental Health Unit. Their programmes and activities, such as Occupational Therapy, daily house visits to the disabled, and families in distress, job sourcing, provision of basic needs such as clothing, and meals, and the provision of family and individual counselling are obvious demonstrations of dignity in mental health. Their hard work and dedication are meritorious and are well paralleled to the ideals of mental health on a whole.

Let it be archived that this government reaffirms its commitment to the Nevis Mental Health Unit as it continues to make tremendous strides in healthcare.

In closing, I bid everyone a rewarding World Mental Health Day. May we use this day to reflect on our attitudes towards the mentally ill, so that our society can become more accepting of those with mental illness.

Thank you and may God continue to bless you!

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