There is a plea for Barbadians not to turn their backs on people suffering from mental illnesses.
The call has come from Minister of Health John Boyce as he addressed the inaugural Friends of the Psychiatric Hospital Appreciation Ceremony on Saturday at Hilton Barbados Hotel.
In the presence of acting hospital director David Leacock and acting chief medical officer Dr Kenneth George, Boyce said people with mental illnesses needed support from family, friends and the public to be reintegrated into the society.
With one in four adults and one in ten children likely to have a mental illness, Boyce said attitudes toward receiving treatment at the Black Rock, St Michael institution were changing.
“The institution is no longer viewed as a place of confinement, but as a facility where clients are provided with comprehensive medical interventions and rehabilitation to equip them to return to meaningful and productive lives in their homes and communities,” he shared.
According to the Minister of Health: “There is evidence that community support services facilitated by clients, their friends and families, and health and social care professionals have had a positive impact on the recovery and reintegration individuals,” said Minister Boyce.
“Such services may be provided in community centres, churches, or even in purpose-built day facilities staffed primarily by retirees wishing to give back to their communities,” he added.
The Minister of Health applauded the tangible and intangible efforts of individuals, businesses, church groups and non-profit organizations.
Referencing the evening’s theme, Living Our Best Lives, Boyce praised the volunteers for enhancing the lives of those living with mental illness and educating others.
“In the process of making your individual and corporate contributions you have raised awareness of what can be done to ensure that people with mental health problems are given the opportunity to live life with dignity,” stated Boyce.
“Through your partnership and general association with the Psychiatric Hospital, the community is becoming well-informed and the negative attitudes to mental health are being eroded,” he noted.