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Sep 5, 2011

Health Care Providers trained to care for mental health patients

Stigma and discrimination are common barriers to mental health. The primary care providers for these individuals must take extra care when dealing with the fragility that comes with their poor mental health.  That is why over a hundred health care providers who concluded a training program were honored through a partnership between the Ministry of Healthy and other agencies this morning. They will be deployed throughout the country to hopeful break down the barriers that prevent patients from accessing proper treatment.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

One hundred and forty health care providers were today awarded certificates for completing a countrywide Community Mental Health Program that was facilitated at the University of the West Indies Open Campus in Belize. The program was a major success with the support of the Ministry of Health and several organizations.

Luz Longsworth

Luz Longsworth, Regional Director, Open Campus Country Sites, UWI

00:10:12 I believe that by training you, we are going to be touching thousands and thousands and thousands of lives in Belize and you all know I have a special place in my heart for Belize right. So it was a great pleasure for us to work along with the partners and certainly, as Mrs. Bennett says, it does take cash to care so we are really grateful for the support. 00:10:37

Dr. Peter Allen, C.E.O., Ministry of Health

“The Ministry of Health must form strategic alliances if we are to make any progress in this critical area. This award ceremony, as has been said, is the culmination of just such an alliance between the Ministry of Health, the Pan American Health Organization, the Mental health Association, the University of the West Indies and of the course, the Mental Health Reform Research Trust of the Marsden Royal Free Hospital in London.”

While the nurses that graduated today are now equipped to provide mental health services in their communities, there are more initiatives in the works for them to further enhance their abilities.

Luz Longsworth

“We really anticipate that this is just the beginning of longer relationships in reaching out to the people of Belize in areas where we are needed. A healthy population is what makes development happen and in these times mental health must not be taken for granted. So this is an extraordinarily important and seminal program that has started.”

Dr. Marjorie Joseph Parks, Deputy Director of Health Services (Nursing)

Marjorie Joseph Parks

“The Ministry of Healthy is currently in discussions with the University of Belize and Dr. Rickards to try to offer a bachelor of Science Degree in Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing at the University of Belize in the near future. If this plan materializes, I trust that some of you will embrace the opportunity to develop yourselves in this vital area.”

And those opportunities are greatly needed, as the C.E.O. in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Peter Allen, outlines a critical area that needs to be addressed.

Peter Allen

Dr. Peter Allen

“Stigma and discrimination, field by ignorance and fear, create significant barriers to a human rights based approach to mental illness. Barriers to treatment include lack of recognition of the seriousness mental illness and lack of understanding about the benefits of services. Stigma even interferes with the willingness of our patients—even those with serious mental illness—to seek help. And in fact, policy makers, healthcare providers, insurance companies and even the general public all actively—if unintentionally—discriminate between physical and mental health problems.”

Delahnie Bain for News Five.

The course ran for thirteen weeks and was completed by most of the participants.

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