Guyana hosts successful mental health conference – Dr Anthony

The recently held Mental Health and Well-Being Conference has been deemed a success and has led to several training opportunities for mental health professionals.

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony, speaking on the conference’s success, said there was a lot of participation from local medical professionals as well as 20 global experts.

Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony delivering the feature address at the Mental Health and Well-Being Conference

“I think the exchange of information from these experts to our team was very welcomed. Another feature of this conference is that I found a lot of people with an interest in mental health not necessarily experts came to the conference. So, each one of the workshops saw at least 15-20 people participating in them…and you had maybe 5 or 5 concurrent workshops happening every day,” Dr Anthony said.

During the conference, various types of training were conducted which benefitted persons who were interested in techniques to help those persons suffering from the various mental illnesses.

This was done with support from the Canadian government.

“We started some training in resilience…teaching the general population, how to cope with stress, what to do, how to do it and in some cases. We were able to train a number of trainers who will use these techniques to help persons in their community,” Dr Anthony said.

However, he noted that this training is not limited to medical professionals, as other individuals or members of the community who want to be trained can benefit.

“Over the next year or so, we will see more of this type of training happening…and we will be working with different groups and, generally, if a group expressed interest that they would like to be trained using these techniques, then certainly we can make those arrangements,” Dr Anthony said.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will also help to train primary healthcare workers.

“UNICEF is going to help us to train some of our health care workers, especially nursing staff. So, right now we have psychiatric aides that work for example at the new Amsterdam hospital…so, we have 73 of these categories of workers and we want to upgrade their skills,” the minister pointed out.

These persons will be enrolled in the nursing assistant programme so that their skills could be upgraded.

By doing this, the ministry is hoping to identify common psychiatric illnesses like depression and anxiety in patients at an early stage, to help save their lives.

Individuals or groups who are interested in training in mental health are advised to contact the Mental Unit, Quamina Street.