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Oct 6, 2016

Healthy Living visits the Mental Health Welcome Resource Center

October tenth is celebrated globally as World Mental Health Day. Belize has come a long way in recognizing the mental health needs of our society. But we continue to fight the stigma and discrimination faced by those with mental illnesses. Tonight on Healthy Living, we introduce you to one facility working to improve the lives of the mentally ill and ensure their dignity.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

In Belize City, near the end of Vernon Street, there is a one story green building that has quietly become a safe haven for a vulnerable group of Belizeans.


Joy Ellis, Administrator, Welcome Resource Center

“It’s a drop in center, meaning you can come anytime during the day from nine a.m. until three; a meal, a change of clothes, you recreate during the day.”


Joy Ellis

The Welcome Resource Center is a drop in center for adults. It’s operated by the N.G.O. the Mental Health Association and was created to provide a peaceful accepting environment for the homeless, the elderly, and for people living with mental health problems. The persons who access the center are called participants. Administrator Joy Ellis explains why.


Joy Ellis

“I say participants. They own this center. As you look around you see the place is clean. On a daily basis, we get them to work for a week and they get a little stipend – nothing much. But it keeps them in the theme with this week: dignity in mental health. These people have pride and dignity. The only difference between them and us is that we can sustain ourselves with a job and at the present moment we can control our emotion and when we going through anything we know where to turn.”


Seventy-six year old Winfield Garbutt has been a faithful participant at the center since it first opened.


Winfield Garbutt

Marleni Cuellar

“You come every day, seven days a week, right?


Winfield Garnett, Participant, Welcome Resource Center

“I come at least five days for the week. What does it offer that makes you come back? They offer – I can come take a bath, get fresh clothes and the food is alright. What the use of staying home and I rent a home and got nothing to eat and I’m a single man and I can get fresh clothes. I think I took a bath this morning. And these clothes, they provide me with. Now what would want me not like this place.”


Mark Gill, Participant, Welcome Resource Center
“I like the quietness of the thing and the communication amongst the organization and the people who put in their work and thing and etc. But I no find no fault. I bathe I shave up, put on my arms spray, comb mi hair, shave up etc. keeping smell nice. stay clean.”


Linda Morgan, Participant, Welcome Resource Center

“I love here! Excellent. Linda, how often you come here. I come here most of the time and when I no come cause I noh feel good cause I’m a diabetic.”


Linda Morgan

Joy Ellis

“Each participant is dealt with on a one on one basis. Nobody is clumped in one although they come under the mental health issue we don’t deal with them like everybody is the same. It’s not every time they are going through their episodes. It’s just like a normal person who maybe today their blood pressure is high and they have to take medication but for our participants. We would know when they need to take a visit to psychiatric nurses and we could call and make referrals and that’s what we do for them. Some of our challenges is finance. Well that’s our major challenge also getting clothes for the males and making volunteers come in and sit with them, read with them and just do some activities with them. Like everybody else, they don’t have a very long attention span; so you work with them for a 45 min or 1 hour and then you leave them be.”


Erna Jones is a new volunteer at the center. She says she wasn’t quite sure what to expect working with the participants but she’s been pleasantly surprised.


Erna Jones

Erna Jones, Volunteer, Welcome Resource Center

“I have a great relationship. I thought it was a place where they wouldn’t pay me any mind. They’re always very serious about what they do and I have to be careful I do the right thing cause they’ll keep me in check. What we have to and what I am trying to do is just be myself with them. Study what they say to you. Talk to them in a nice manner and not in a way that would get them irritated and show a lot of love.”


Winfield Garnett

“I like the whole system…I love the system! And I try to comply with the rules and regulations.”


Marleni Cuellar

“It feels like a home?”


Winfield Garnett

“It is. For me, it is for me!”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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