Georgetown, Guyana: The Office of the President, President Youth Advisory Council, and the Ministry of Health’s Mental Health Unit launched a National Mental Health Website at the Health Emergency Operation Centre (HEOC) in Quamina Street, Georgetown, according to the update by the Ministry of Health of Guyana.
The website is now live and can be accessed at https://mentalhealth.gov.gy/.
The website was created through the National Data Management Authority (NDMA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH), the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and the President Youth Advisory Council (PYAC).
It is informed that it will be an online platform that allows citizens across Guyana to access basic information about mental health and other related illnesses. It will also give safe, secure, and confidential mental health support to anyone in need.
During his brief remarks, Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony, indicated that the launch of the website is one of many projects to come through the initiative of the President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana as mental health remains top on the Government’s agenda.
“This is a project that the President was involved in; he recognised one of the challenges in mental health is that quite a few people commit suicide, and we want to change that and ensure we reduce those numbers…” the Minister said.
According to the Minister, since the current administration took office, much work has been done in the area of mental health; this includes the revised legislation governing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention that was passed last year.
He further stated that in the past, Mental Health services were limited to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) in Region Four and National Physiatrist Hospital in Fort Canje in Region Six.
The Ministry has expanded its services to Regions Two (Pomeroon-Supeaam), Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), Four (Demerara – Mahaica) on the East Bank of Demerara and Five (Mahaica – Berbice) will also cover region six (East Berbice – Corentyne).
For the hinterland regions, Minister Anthony stated that the MoH is working to have staff placed in those areas periodically.
While touching on some of the training opportunities being offered by the Ministry of Health, Dr Anthony highlighted that some primary healthcare physicians are currently being trained to be able to recognise mental health illness and offer counselling sessions.
“The World Health Organization (WHO) has protocols of how you can interview patients, how you can get information from them, and then how you can utilise that information to assist the patient. The Mental Health unit is currently training primary health care physicians on this methodology, and the hope is that all the primary health care centres have skilled personnel working with persons who have mental health vulnerability,” he explained.
The Minister also informed those present that the Ministry is collaborating with Columbia University to complete three projects, and with a Canadian grant, persons can be part of resilience training.
Meanwhile, PYAC member Lee Fung-A-Fat, while demonstrating how the website works, indicated that the site could be accessed for any device at any time, and persons could have appointments scheduled. In addition, the site also allows persons to video chat with the therapist.
The attendees of the event were the Director Non-Cococommunicable Diseases, Dr Latchmie Lall; Head of the Mental Head Unit, Dr Timothy Morgan; PYAC member, Shenisa Fredericks; PYAC member, Tracy Shamsudeen; first respondents on the website, Ariya Persaud and Crystal Debindin, and other members of PYAC and staff at the MoH Mental Health Unit.