Comprehensive mental health plan underway as gov’t continues to expand services
The Ministry of Health has been working to develop a more comprehensive eight-year plan to expand its mental health services, Clinical Psychiatrist and head of the ministry’s Psychology Services, Training and Education Programme, Dr. Mark Constantine has said.
Speaking during a recent interview, he shared that, “The ministry already has a mental health strategy at hand. However, that plan is in the process of being updated, which is going to be a plan for 2023-2030. That plan, I must say, is going to be a very comprehensive plan that is going to involve everyone across the country.”
Dr. Constantine said the mental health unit has since decentralised its services to the Diamond Diagnostic Centre on the East Bank of Demerara and the West Demerara Regional Hospital in Region Three.
Mental health professionals such as counsellors and psychiatrists will also be placed at the various health centres countrywide. The Supply Health Centre on the East Bank of Demerara already has a unit.
A mental health website was also launched as part of the ongoing efforts.
“It is a website where persons can go online and easily access it. Once they access it those persons will be able to speak to a counsellor live online,” he said.
Additionally, the ministry is working to extend the chat time from eight hours daily to a 24-hour service.
In accordance with this comprehensive plan, the government has embarked on a journey to train more persons in the field.
In 2022, the new Mental Health Protection and Promotion Bill was passed in the National Assembly to ensure efficient mental health services are provided.
The bill surrounds the incorporation of mental health services into the country’s primary health care system with the placement of staff at various locations.
It also entails mental health services being extended to persons through telemedicine.