THE EDITOR: It is with a sense of relief, happiness and optimism I note the emphasis which has been placed on mental health in the 2019-2020 budget. The decentralisation of the St Ann's facility is a window for the ease of access to treatment.
In conjunction with education and the efforts to destigmatise the illness, individuals will certainly become motivated to take advantage of the services offered.
In their day-to-day activities, people are exposed to stress in one form or another which may negatively impact on the individuals and may be manifested through various indicators such as anger, anxiety and depression. The individuals may develop coping mechanisms but failure to address these indicators through therapy may lead to violence, chronic mental illness or even death.
The focus on mental health presents an opportunity for emotionally disturbed children, particularly teenagers, to enter into a sanctuary to express their concerns and emotions in confidentiality and safety. In many instances youths are in search of someone who will listen to them in a non-judgmental manner.
It is anticipated that in pursuit of the goal to maintain the mental health or wellbeing of an individual, ongoing interaction and the promotion of awareness will be incorporated in the schools and within communities.
The proposed conversion of the St Michael’s School for Boys into a rebranded home should also be viewed in the context of the mental health of the boys. Whereas there seems to be a disciplinary approach to behavioural change through the management of the home by reserves from the Defence Force, unless the layers of psychological damage are unearthed, the process will be incomplete.
In general, the history of boys who are deemed uncontrollable, use and abuse drugs and alcohol is rooted in early childhood trauma. These young minds must be “rewired” to be assisted in the development of new ideas, appreciation of self, others and the environment.
Early intervention will surely interrupt the cycle which may lead to chronic mental illness or other associated conditions. There is also the potential to engage and treat people with traumatic experiences who may be harbouring suicidal ideation.
An investment in mental health is a positive undertaking in the well-being of the citizens of any country. It demonstrates and activates the capacity for improved performance or functioning within the environment, ie, in relation to the school, on the job, at home or in the community.
Sustainable mental health is a factor in high productivity and underpins a resilient and progressive nation.