Guyana: The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Guyana Mental Health and Well-Being Team, Columbia University, the University of Guyana, the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and other partners hosted the opening ceremony of the Guyana Mental Health and Well-Being Conference at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre.
During the address at the opening ceremony, Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony highlighted that recent research on Mental Health conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that the effects of mental health disorders are seen in one in eight people, while based on research done from the Guyana National Mental Health Action Plan, findings show that 10 to 15 percent of Guyanese suffer from a mental health disorder. With these figures, he added that there is a need for better healthcare services to be provided for people who may be suffering from mental disorders. As such, the minister further stated that the ministry is working closely with the Pan Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) to create a revised mental health action plan which will provide benefits for a period of five years.
“We’ll be able to make a new plan that will target the types of diseases, places, Regions, and great interventions that we hope to be more responsive, with a strategy that addresses the specific problem. It will also have the consideration of challenges we’re facing with COVID-19”, he explained.
Additionally, the minister mentioned that the Child Psychiatrist Clinics are now extended to Regions Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), Four (Demerara-Mahaica), and Six (East-Berbice Corentyne), with the intention of expanding to all ten Regions.
Further, Minister Anthony made mention of several bills which focus on mental health, which were recently made legal as part of the laws of Guyana.
“The Mental Health Act will now see persons who are diagnosed with Mental health disorders no longer having to be housed in a hospital, but they will be treated for that disorder and sent home with their family to better recover. They will also be protected against discrimination”, he explained.
Meanwhile, under the Suicide Prevention Act, persons who attempt suicide will no longer be placed behind bars, but they will be treated for any disorder they may experience.
Also present at this morning’s opening were, Representative from the Guyana Well-Being Team, Dr William Adu-Krow; Professor Emanuel Cummings, attached to the University of Guyana; Mark Berman, Canadian High Commissioner, Jane Miller; British High Commissioner, Sarah Ann Lynch, American Ambassador, Dr Luis F Codina, PAHO Representative to Guyana, Irfan Akhtar, UNICEF Deputy Representative for Guyana and Suriname and other officials.