Comprehensive mental health response rolled out in Region Eight

A comprehensive mental health response is currently underway across Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) to assess and assist survivors and relatives of those who lost their lives in the Mahdia fire earlier this week.

The response includes the deployment of five teams comprising psychiatrists, child psychologists, counsellors, and social workers to interact with students, teachers, school support staff, and family members.

Advisor to the Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, gave the update in a video statement posted to the Ministry of Health’s Facebook page on Thursday evening.

He noted that the government’s response to the situation will not just be medical, but will centre on mental health support as well.

Simultaneously, a similar response is taking place in Georgetown, for the children who were transported during the medical evacuation, along with their families.

A team from the Northwell Center for Global Health, in the United States, is also expected here to provide further support, and government is currently working on assembling a team from the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

The Pan-American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) is also providing support to Guyana during this time.

“Whilst this is an immediate response, further short, medium and long-term responses for mental health will also be in place. And while the immediate concerns are the children in the Mahdia Secondary School dorms— both male and female— and the teachers and families, we are also cognisant that children attending schools throughout Region Eight will need counselling and mental health support. These teams will fan out to the various schools,” Dr Ramsammy said.

He added that children presently accommodated in dorms across the hinterland will also receive mental health support, taking their possible trauma into consideration.

Mental health teams positioned in the hinterland will remain in place for the next three months, and will eventually be complemented by support staff from the United States and other countries.

“So, we are working together with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Human Services, and the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs to ensure that every child, every parent, all teachers in Region Eight and other regions with dormitories, are receiving mental health support,” Dr Ramsammy expressed.

He stated that updates will continue to be shared with the public as government continues to take action to provide support to those affected by the tragedy.