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Oct 10, 2018

World Mental Health Observed in Belize

Ramon Figueroa

Today, October tenth, Belize joined the globe to observe World Mental Health Day under the theme, “Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World.” According to the World Health Organization, young people are particularly vulnerable to mental distress and illness and most cases go undetected. The Ministry of Health says that youths in Belize accounted for fifteen percent of the total consultations for mental health services over the last ten years and anxiety accounted for fifty-five percent of those consultations. The stats on suicide attempt are also of concern. The Ministry reports that seventy-four point three percent of attempted suicides were among fifteen to nineteen-year-olds. An official ceremony to commemorate the day and raise awareness was held at the Bliss this afternoon. We caught up with the C.E.O. in the Ministry of Health who shared more about the Ministry’s work to address mental health in Belize.

 

Dr. Ramon Figueroa, C.E.O., Ministry of Health

“It is to highlight the stresses, the challenges, the existence of mental health problems in the youth population. And to highlight what the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders are doing to address this issue. Our focus has been diverted to other issues; we walk a lot about NCD’s – diabetes, cancers, dialysis, things like that and we tend to forget the hidden problems. We tend to forget that young people, especially as they transition from childhood to adulthood, because of the physiological and anatomical changes that they go through make them vulnerable. They are also a group especially in this day and ages are exposed through social media to a lot of negative influences.  We have a whole group of psychiatric nurse practitioners out there. We work with the Ministry of Education. Our health facilities probably don’t have as trained personnel as we would want but they are trained to try and identify some of these issues and then refer to psychiatric nurse practitioners. Right now we are focusing on a health plan that will address some of their priority concerns which includes violence, drug use, and mental health as a general issue. So, we are focusing a lot more on this particular vulnerable population trying to and get additional human resources provide the necessary services.”

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