Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic, has called for more public education on mental health conditions such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which affects two to three per cent of children worldwide.
Speaking at the opening of the G. Halley Marville Trust Awareness Conference and Seminar on OCD on Tuesday at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, he praised the organisers for promoting awareness of OCD in Barbados and bringing together the expertise to develop new strategies to help those suffering from the condition.
Lt. Col. Bostic noted the significant impact the mental health disorder had on sufferers through recurring obsessions, recurrent unwanted thoughts, compulsions and repetitive excessive actions.
“For children and young adults, the symptoms of emotional disturbance lead to social isolation, victimisation, bullying, marginalisation, and/or expulsion within educational settings,” he outlined.
The Health and Wellness Minister submitted that public awareness, therefore, was important because it would assist in facilitating the early identification of such conditions, minimise the stigmatisation of sufferers and enhance support for them.
He deemed it unfortunate that OCD was often overlooked by society, especially since the World Health Organization had ranked it as one of the 10 global leading causes of disability in terms of loss of income.
Further, he noted, among adolescents with OCD the literature indicated that very few received an appropriate and correct diagnosis, and even fewer received proper treatment. It is also estimated that about 10 per cent of patients with OCD attempted suicide in their adolescent and adult years.
Lt. Col. Bostic told the audience: “It is therefore important that all of us who have the care and supervision of children are aware of these conditions so that referral to mental health personnel can occur, accurate diagnostic assessments made and appropriate holistic treatment and management strategies introduced.”
He said the conference was an important vehicle for knowledge transfer, continuing education and optimism, which would lead to greater understanding of how to care for individuals affected by OCD.