COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH HIGH ON AGENDA NEXT YEAR

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Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, (centre), on tour of the Psychiatric Hospital earlier today. Also pictured are hospital Director, Tennyson Springer, and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John.

The coming year will see the Psychiatric Hospital addressing several issues at that institution. These include the continued expansion of some wards, the development of a new kitchen facility, the upgrading of the staff cafeteria and the expansion of the community mental health programme.

Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, revealed this today following an extensive tour of the facility. The Minister said, “The whole idea is to make the Psychiatric Hospital more accommodating for patients, the staff and the relatives who visit from time to time.” 

While stating that work was ongoing on the Psychiatric Hospital, which is approximately 117 years old, the Minister added that there was need to also ensure that it could accommodate the male population which currently outstrips that of females by a 2:1 ratio.

There are currently approximately 510 patients housed at the Psychiatric Hospital in Black Rock.

Noting that the Ministry would continue to move more aggressively and focus on community mental health work, he added: “The intention is to continue to work on taking the care, both preventative and curative, out into the wider community.”

Minister Inniss also acknowledged that he was aware of the challenges inherent in providing these services. However, he said: “We certainly need to expand it; approximately a third of the patients here can be taken care of by the society. That is an indication of where we need to go. We need to get Barbadians to have a better understanding of the various types of mental health illnesses… and to understand that there is some work that can be done by the families in their homes."

While accepting that families also faced challenges of dealing with these individuals, he said that in more recent times there had been “an increase in those patients who come with substance abuse issues” and there was a need to reduce the pressure at the Psychiatric Hospital through the working relationships formed with private and public institutions whose facilities addressed substance abuse.

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