More strides being made to tackle mental health issues in Guyana

As continuous efforts are being made to bring awareness of the seriousness of mental health in Guyana, and the severity of its impacts on youths, the Health Ministry’s Mental Health and Adolescent Health Unit, in collaboration with the Rotaract Club of Georgetown, Life Reform, and Desert Flower Guyana, on Wednesday evening held a webinar session called “The Mind Matters”.
Senior Psychologist and Supervisor of the Psychology Department within the Mental Health Unit at the Health Ministry, Balogun Osunbiyi, along with Assistant Mental Health Counsellors Crystal Debidin and Rosana Wilson shared information on the importance of a healthy mind.
With the presentation focusing primarily on how individuals can improve their overall well-being by getting their minds in tune to the goals they hope to achieve, Osunbiyi explained why it was important to have a healthy mind and the resultant benefits.
“Looking after our mental health and emotional well-being is just as important as caring for our physical health. Our mind and body are not separate, disconnected things – they are a part of what makes us whole,” the psychologist expressed.
He went on to state that “mental health and physical health, therefore, are both part of our overall health and well-being. For example, experiencing physical symptoms like headache, tiredness, shaky hands, etc, as a result of stress, anxiety or low mood.”
Osunbiyi noted that whereby there were times persons may feel as though they have no control of the thoughts and feelings they might be having at a given time – which may sometimes be negative, there are ways in which persons can improve their mood, which will make a difference in improving their mental health.
“Just as with our bodies, we need to look after our minds at all times, not just when we feel bad.”
Assistant Counsellor Debidin then shared key activities for a healthy mind – sleep time, physical time, time in, down time, play time, and connecting time.

Senior Psychologist at the Mental Health Unit,
Balogun Osunbiyi

Debidin explained that sleep time entails ensuring you have a sufficient amount of sleep so that you can continue functioning properly. In regard to physical time, she advised that persons do exercises or yoga. The “time in” component referred to taking the time to process internal conflicts, whereby down time is the time taken to relax or meditate. Play time and connecting time, she stated, can usually be put together. This is when we socialise and take the time to strengthen bonds with our friends, family, and co-workers, etc.
In addition to this, she noted that the adoption of positive thinking is a simple but necessary process in developing a healthy mind.
“When we think about positive thinking – how we do this, there are different methods… you can take control of your state – that is taking control of your body, your physical body, your physiology… have a healthy outlook of things,” the Assistant Counsellor explained.
She further noted that adjusting your mindset by being optimistic, studying your habits and creating new ones can have a great impact on the journey of a healthy mind.
Assistant Mental Health Counsellor Wilson shed light on the need for persons to surround themselves with positive people, since this also played a major role in the development of a healthy mind.
“It’s really good to surround yourself with positive people, and we know that negativity and positivity have been shown to be contagious. So, you must consider who you’re spending your time with,” Wilson advised.
She further explained that surrounding yourself with positive people improved self-esteem and increased chances of achieving goals. Surrounding yourself with positive people, she noted, lifts you up and helps you to see the brighter side of life and have positive thoughts about yourself.
Wilson recommended practising positive self-talk, since research has shown that even a small shift in the way you talk to or about yourself can influence your ability to regulate your feelings, thoughts, and behaviours while under stress.
Senior Psychologist Osunbiyi shared, “As a boy growing up, my father used to sit us [siblings] down and he would say, you know everybody is looking for somebody to love them, and then he would ask, do you love yourself?”
He went on to say that “It starts with you really loving you, really loving yourself. Treating yourself the way you would like someone to treat you.”