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Feb 18, 2011

Nurses get equipped to care for mentally challenged patients

You can’t have strength and vigor without mental health; that was the general sentiment among nurses and representatives from both the private and public health sectors this morning. They came together for the launch of a countrywide training program to equip community nurses to care for mentally challenged patients. The course was made possible through a joint effort by the Ministry of Health, PAHO and the Mental Health Association; while the classes will be facilitated by the University of the West Indies. It was a proud moment for representatives of the organizations that are spearheading the project.  News Five’s Delahnie Bain was on hand at the opening ceremony.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

There is a need for more trained professionals in several fields and nursing is no exception. That is why the University of the West Indies, the Ministry of Health, the Mental Health Association and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) have collaborated on an effort to train community nurses in mental health. The initiative was launched today.

Dr. Michael Pitts, Director of Health Services

“It is felt that education is a key gap that exists in the country; education in particular for nursing, continuing education and it is exciting then when we see such a program to add to training for nurses in the community—notice we are departing from just training the mental health nurses—we are now saying let’s train the nurses in community nursing to be activists if you will in mental health services.”

Dr. Claudina Cayetano, Director, Mental Health Program

“I consider this training to be a timely and important step in the delivery of mental health services in this country and it is another milestone in the pursuit of our strategic objectives for the mental health program.”

Jose Perez, PAHO Representative

Jose Perez

“We believe that today is a great day for community nursing in mental health but also for those mental health patients in rural communities. I think this training program is very instrumental and once again we are very proud to be a part of the whole initiative.”

Marjorie Parks, Deputy Director of Health Services (Nursing)

“This training in mental health will certainly reinforce the knowledge and upgrade the understanding of nurses regarding the mental health needs and care of clients, their families and the community. It will enhance their ability to provide holistic care.”

Claudina Cayetano

The program is being spearheaded by Dr. Claudina Cayetano, the Director of the Mental Health Program in the Ministry of Health. She outlined a long list of lessons to be covered in the coming weeks.

Dr. Claudina Cayetano

“You will have the opportunity to learn about mental health, you will learn about mental health promotion and prevention of disorders, you will learn about common mental health disorders, you will learn about understanding substance abuse and dependency, how to help patients with chronic mental disorders, relapse prevention, crisis intervention, applied health skills and you will also learn about suicide attempts and other topics that are important in mental health.”

Jenny Lovell, President, Mental Health Association

Jenny Lovell

“Hopefully when you leave from this project in thirteen weeks, any attitudes that you may have had, any fears you may have had about dealing with people with mental illnesses will be dissipated and you are going to be promoters of mental health in the communities.”

Marjorie Parks

“I applaud Dr. Cayetano for spearheading this very important activity and I, of course, thank all the partners involved. Training one hundred and seventy of the country’s five hundred and sixty-four nurses is a major accomplishment.”

According to Dr. Michael Pitts, the initiative sets Belize a step ahead in health care in the Caribbean while Dr. Cayetano hopes that it will encourage more persons to seek treatment.

Dr. Michael Pitts

“This program is the first of its kind in the country of Belize and I believe the wider UWI community might say it’s the first of its kind in the CARICOM territory. So Belize is planting its flag again ahead of the rest of CARICOM. We are the heart of the Caribbean I will tell you. We have never had the opportunity to provide this kind of training before, comprehensively at any given moment for so many people.”

Dr. Claudina Cayetano

Michael Pitts

“When people can access mental health services closer to their homes, it allows them to keep their families together and maintain their daily activities. In addition, they avoid indirect cause associated with seeking special care in distant locations. Stigma and discrimination stop people from seeking attention.”

Delahnie Bain for News Five.

At the end of the mental health course, the nurses will receive a certificate underwritten by UWI.

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2 Responses for “Nurses get equipped to care for mentally challenged patients”

  1. Josie says:

    It is about time something like this happened, we need to stop the stigma in Belize by assuming someone is crazy , we have people who can live a normal life with some help from the community and the health department.

  2. cg says:

    Dr. Cayetano is one of the most patient and loving doctors i have ever met. She helped both my mom and brother live better their mental illness. I totally have respect for this fine lady and all the work she does in helping those with Mental Disorders in Belize. We have so many people who need the help and could get back to living normal lives

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