Health Ministry moves to decentralise mental health

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

From left, President of GROOTS TT Delores Robinson, mental health planner Karline Brathwaite, and, Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh reads through mental heal documents during the Mental Health Find Care TT Stakeholder Engagement at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital, Monday. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh is urging people who may be facing mental-health stresses to seek the necessary help and intervention.

Speaking at the launch of the ministry’s mental health website, FindCareTT, on Monday at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital, he said the covid19 pandemic had immense impact on people, not just adults, but on all age groups and there was urgent need for a robust mental-health system.

“The news coming out post-covid19 as far as mental health in our country is concerned, and the world is one that needs attention, especially unfortunate suicides and, recently, the very unfortunate incident of that 15-year-old child. Those efforts underscore the need to reach out to people.

“Mental health, like covid19 is no respecter of status, income, it affects anyone. Some people are ashamed of sharing a diagnosis with their family, so could you imagine if there was a diagnosis of mental health?”

He said it was time to overcome the stigma of mental health and to encourage people to access help.

“We need people to recognise they need help, for families and friends, co-workers to be able to understand the signs when someone is engaging in these behaviours.”

Since the launch of the mental health initiative the Red Cross received 720 for 2021, the TT Association of Psychologists have recorded 1,700 calls and the FindCare site recorded 50,000 page visits in the past 15 months, Deyalsingh said.

Statistics from the website, according to chairwoman of Mind Wise, the developer of the site Maria O’Brien said there has been an increase in the number of people seeking help for gender-based violence, suicide support and addiction support; with suicide support or prevention at the top spot.

CEO of the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) Dr Brian Amour said, at the onset of the pandemic, the country’s focus was on the development of the parallel health-care system and preserving lives and livelihood.

A small group of technical staff, he said, were charged with responsibility to create a single port of call for citizens to access assistance for mental health or psychosocial concerns.

“At the SWRHA, patients had a dedicated mental-health line that was available via our toll-free customer-care centre; 87-SWRHA, which provided tele-mental-health counselling to anyone who needed emotional or psychological support.

“Over the course of the two years, this service was well utilised by persons, not just in the south-west region, but all across TT. We also had some international calls.”

Findcarett.com is the directory coming out of the technical working group of the Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support Network of TT in response to the pandemic.

The directory publishes mental health services, counselling services, helpline services, social support resources, coping materials, addiction services, gender-based violence services, children and adolescents support services and digital services.

The resources on FindCareTT are free, accessible in various languages and can be accessed on mobile devices at https://www.findcarett.com/