THA Secretary: Mental health issues can affect anyone

Secretary of Health Tracy Davidson-Celestine. PHOTO COURTESY THA -
Secretary of Health Tracy Davidson-Celestine. PHOTO COURTESY THA -

Secretary of Health, Wellness and Family Development Tracy Davidson-Celestine urged the public to utilise the services available in her division to treat mental health issues.

In a press release on Friday to mark World Mental Health Day (October 10). the division said one in four people, according to the World Health Organisation, will suffer from mental health issues, yet the stigma surrounding it remains.

This year’s global theme is: Mental health for all: greater investment – greater access.

The division said now more than ever, the mental health care system is being asked to do more for people owing to the challenges caused by the pandemic.

Davidson-Celestine said, "We never think it can be us. I have known people too. We often feel powerless to help. Nearly everyone knows of someone who has been challenged by mental health, and some people suffer silently.”

The secretary said with greater public awareness and government support, people can get the help required.

She added, “Our systems and attitude have been changing slowly, we need to embrace this as a real problem and not just discounted as behaviour as 'he/she playing the fool, nothing ain't wrong with them nah.'”

Recently the secretary urged the public to use the telephone counselling service provided for people dealing with depression, experiencing continuous and overwhelming emotions, anxiety and mental health challenges as a result of the covid19 impact. “We have had a number of people call in to use this service. It offers complete confidentiality,” she said.

The Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA), the governing health institution on the island, offers mental health services at seven districts/facilities on the island. Some of the services include:

• Psychiatric assessment and treatment

• Psychotherapy and counselling

• Occupational therapy

• Substance abuse clinic

• Memory/ Alzheimer’s Clinic

According to the Head, Mental Health Department at the Scarborough General Hospital, Dr Sreenivasulu Mallakunta, while services are well utilised, major problems do present.

He said: “Some of the major challenges faced when caring for persons with a mental illness are the non-compliance of patients with the medication.”

He added: “The stigma attached to mental health; and the co-morbidities with other substance use, are common situations. We need to promote mental health awareness to help people cope with stigma.”

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