$98.9M state-of-the-art psychiatric department opens at GPHC
The newly refurbished state-of-the-art $98.9 million Psychiatric Department of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) was launched on Tuesday to mark a significant step forward for mental health care in Guyana.
At the simple opening ceremony, Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony noted that it is designed to provide a conducive space where patients can receive care in a dignified and respectful manner.
He noted that this is in stark contrast to the claustrophobic space that previously existed.
“This facility that we are in is one of the first steps in that direction where we are providing equal care, the environment must be good…everybody must have the same access, clean spaces, nice place in which you can get your care,” the minister emphasised.
The psychiatric department will offer a range of new services, including electroconvulsive therapy, ketamine services for depression, neuropsychiatry, and forensic psychology.
These are in addition to the adult and child psychology, geriatric psychology, and support services that are currently being offered.
Medical personnel will be trained in Northwell, New York to ensure that the department is staffed with highly trained professionals who are equipped to provide the best possible care to patients.
Minister Anthony also noted that historically, much of the emphasis has been placed on physical health neglecting mental health care in the process. This has resulted in a situation where a substantial portion of the population is affected by various mental health illnesses.
As such, the government has made improvements to the mental health legislation as part of a broader effort to address the neglect of mental health care.
The act includes a new section that deals with the human rights of mental health patients. This is a relatively new concept, and Guyana is one of the few countries that has legislated the rights of mental health patients.
The new legislation ensures that mental health patients are treated with dignity and respect. It also protects their right to privacy and ensures that they do not face discrimination. These are important steps in creating a more open and inclusive society that values the rights and well-being of all its citizens.
Meanwhile, coupled with the mental health act is the newly reformed suicide prevention act.
Suicide is a particularly pressing issue in Guyana, and the new legislation includes provisions for a multi-stakeholder commission to address this issue.
Minister Anthony said the aim is to create a society where suicide prevention is everyone’s responsibility and not just that of the health institutions.
He also highlighted that psychiatric services are being decentralised to ensure that persons in remote areas have access to similar health care.