LHC launches mental health awareness activities

The Mental Health Unit of the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC) on Monday launched its Mental Health Awareness Month of activities with a ceremony hosted at the Linden Enterprise Network (LEN) in Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice).
May is designated Mental Health Awareness Month and according to the social worker attached to the hospital, Laurette Smith-Gray, the Unit is embarking on sensitising the Linden community about mental illnesses and the involvement of each resident in helping affected persons. Various stakeholders were present during the launch, including members of the Guyana Police Force, who are called upon to assist with mentally ill patients when necessary. Smith-Gray said it is important to network with agencies in dealing with mental health and mental illness.
“It is necessary for us to network with all of the agencies in this community. In every agency or every home, it may have someone who might be exposed to some form of mental illness. The more we can enlighten persons, agencies and organisations about incidences of mental illness, the more we can have a better response, the stigma will be reduced and persons will be able to get the necessary help,” she noted.
Highlighting a few circumstances where the police are called in, the social worker said in some cases, mentally ill patients can be very unstable and aggressive. She added that recently, there have been complaints from relatives of mentally ill patients about the way their families are being handled, hence the need to have the police on board to understand patients’ behaviours and how they can be dealt with effectively. As such, she said the Unit is presently involved in sensitising the police in terms of dealing with such patients.
“Because they aren’t criminals…they have a mental condition, and an understanding of the mental condition will help with a better approach in carrying out their duties”, Smith-Gray said.
Also present at the launch were members of the religious community, probation and welfare officers, councillors and regional officials.
Presently, there are over 400 active patients enrolled in the LHC Mental Health Clinic.
According to information from the clinic, a considerable amount of mentally ill patients was seen at the clinic this year. In January alone, the clinic recorded 133 patients and 107 in February. Medical professionals are presently in the process of rehabilitating a section of the nearby former hospital, which is being converted into a more enhanced, permanent facility in an effort to expand mental health services in the region.