Community-based mental health services more effective -Snr Psychologist

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Bringing mental health services to patients within their communities is cheaper and more effective than having them visit central hospitals.

This is the opinion of Senior Psychologist at the Mental Health Unit, Ministry of Public Health, Dr Balogun Osunbiyi. In a recent interview with the Department of Public information Dr. Osunbiyi added that approximately 120 doctors throughout the country have now been trained to make this happen.

Balogun Osunbiyi, Senior Psychologist, Mental Health Unit, Ministry of Public Health.

It is a view shared by Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence who believes mental health patients should preferably access services on an outpatient basis rather than being admitted to a psychiatric facility because in many cases they are afraid of the discrimination attached to seeking help in that manner.

“It not only makes sense in terms of access to service and delivery of that service but it makes sense also because a lot of times people don’t come to the hospital or the health centre for treatment,” Dr Osunbiyi noted. It is now a case where “one has to go to the community rather than wait for the community to come to us.”

Community-based mental health is also cheaper, according to Osunbiyi: “It is less burdensome to our budget to go to the communities to perform preventative mental health care rather than wait for persons to come after having a challenge and then you have to perform curative health care.”

The training is part of a Mental Health GAP Action Programme (mhGAP) which offers a non-specialist programme providing a lower level psychiatric education. This started in 2017 and another programme called PM Plus has been rolled out, targeting community leaders to deal with mental health issues.

“We have a national programme in which we have training in Problem Management plus called (PM Plus) which is similar to the mhGAP but these are specifically for religious leaders or heads of NGOs where they can do problem solving at the community level,” Osunbiyi explained.

By: Delicia Haynes.