The crafting of a national mental health policy will be a major focus of the Ministry of Health and Wellness going forward. (Stock Photo)

Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic, is calling for public input into a national mental health policy.

Last Saturday, he issued a challenge to all those attending an event to mark Caribbean Wellness Day at Sheraton Centre, Sargeant’s Village, Christ Church, to join with his Ministry in helping to craft a policy to meet the needs of the country, revealing that this will be a major focus of the Ministry going forward.

Acknowledging the need to place greater emphasis on mental wellness, the Minister of Health and Wellness stated: “Even within the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the things that has been recognised globally is the fact that a mental wellness programme is a major weapon to use to fight the pandemic, but at the same, it has been one of the most neglected weapons, including in Barbados.”

He thanked the mental health professionals “who have been working day in and day out throughout the length and breadth of this country in polyclinics, in schools and in communities”, noting that while there have been successes, “we are nowhere near where we are supposed to be, and we have to change that”.

Lt. Col. Bostic told the gathering that while the Ministry’s work in recent months had concentrated heavily on the challenges presented by COVID-19, efforts continued in other areas of health, particularly in respect of the fight against non-communicable diseases.

Noting that its efforts have been challenged by the pandemic, he shared: “We have had to find some new ways and means to deliver the message and try to achieve the aim, but we continue to maintain our focus.”  In that respect, he said, a national nutrition policy will also be rolled out shortly.

The annual event to celebrate Caribbean Wellness Day is hosted by the National Task Force on Wellness.  It featured an afternoon of physical activity, including tai chi, line dancing and a session by Spinny Fitness, as well as a tribute to frontline workers by spoken word artiste, D’Lisa Gaskin.  Booths were set up throughout the mall to disseminate information on the dimensions of wellness.            

During the ceremony, the Task Force paid tribute to three frontline workers in the COVID-19 pandemic – Rommell Carmichael, the driver who has been responsible for transporting samples for testing; Major Joel Greenidge of the Barbados Defence Force, who is a member of the Emergency Operations Centre; and Joy Springer, Information Officer, Government Information Service.

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