THIS country had a suicide rate of 14.4 per 100,000 people in 2014, and dementia has become a major global health issue because it affects everyone. This was revealed by Ashvini Nath, head of the mental health unit in the Ministry of Health.
Speaking at the official launch of Building Sustainable Minds – an interview series featuring insights from local leaders in mental health, hosted by MindWise in collaboration with the United Nations, Nath said globally in 2015 more than 46 million people were living with dementia and the figure is expected to reach 75 million by 2030.
“Approximately two per cent of the global burden of disease is estimated to be associated with alcohol and substance use disorders. Our sustainable development goal is to reduce one-third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.”
Nath said his unit is dedicated to promoting mental health, preventing mental and substance-use conditions through advocacy, education, research and evidence-based services for people who suffer from a spectrum of psychiatric disorders, and to improve the lives of patients and families.
She said it is clear mental health is of paramount importance as one in ten people are suffering from a mental disorder.
Dr Edwin Bolastig, Advisor Health System and Services and representative for PAHO/WHO for TT, said globally mental disorders impose an enormous burden on society, accounting for almost one in three lives with a disability.
“In addition to the health impact, mental disorder causes a significant economic burden as well because of lost of productivity, and also the cost of care. At St Ann’s there are 800 beds and the largest hospital in Trinidad, but a lot of the residential care is the most expensive type of care.
“The link between mental disorders and NCD’s can be fatal which include cancer, cardiovascular diseases, HIV, diabetes, and obesity. Also, 80 per cent of the people likely to experience an episode of mental disorder in their lifetime come from low and middle income countries. It is a common thing.”
Bolastig said society should not have stigma and discrimination against people with mental health issues. He said he would like to advocate for a change in the mindset of people dealing with mental health.
“Have a heart and be compassionate. Make it personal when dealing with people who are suffering from mental health disorders.”