Gov’t formulating five-year mental health awareness plan − Dr Anthony

Mental health awareness activities launched

As part of a collaborative effort to raise awareness of mental health issues and mental health stigma in Guyana, the Health Ministry’s Adolescent Health Unit, the Pan-American Health Organisation and the United Nations Children Fund, today launched the Mental Health Awareness Activities and the ‘Do Your Share’ Campaign.

In delivering brief remarks, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony stated that the mental health environment in Guyana has seen significant changes, and noted that the ministry is formulating a five-year plan for mental health awareness and improvement in Guyana.

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony

“Back then they used to see the patient as someone that needed to be taken away from society and locked in an institution. Our approach is a rights-based approach that mental health patients have a right to be in society and therefore the new piece of legislation that we have passed has emphasised the rights-based approach to mental health,” the minister explained. 

PAHO/WHO Representative, Dr. Luis Codina expressed the importance of tackling the stigma against mental health through law reform, research and the provision of community-based mental health services.

“PAHO will continue to work with all stakeholders in helping Guyana in the strengthening of leadership, governance, effective mental health services, support the movement to community-based mental health, and in psychosocial support to improve preparedness, response, and resilience,” he pledged.

He also noted that Guyana has succeeded in implementing some of these tactics.

Dr Timothy Morgan of the Mental Health Unit, noted the steps that have been taken to improve mental health care throughout the country.

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony signs the “Because my mental health matters” pledge

“The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with our local and international partners, continues to improve mental health care through progressive actions and policies. This includes expanding accessibility, improving mental health services, developing mental health research, and updating national policies and legislation that ensure the protection of the rights of people with mental health illnesses.”

UNICEF Area Representative to Guyana and Suriname, Nicolas Pron, expressed that the mental wellbeing of all in Guyana has been prioritised through partnerships with his organisation and the government.

He commended several key actions, such as the integration of interventions across the health, education and social protection sectors and the increased investment in child and adolescent mental health. 

The health ministry’s Adolescent Health Coordinator, Cilandell Glenn, Primary Health Care Director, Dr Ertenisa Hamilton, Representative of Desert Flower Guyana, Abigail Fraser and Miss Guyana World 2022, Andrea King were also present at the event.

The theme for 2022’s World Mental Health Day is “Make mental health and well-being for all a global priority”, while the triennial theme for World Suicide Prevention Day is “Creating Hope through action”.