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Oct 10, 2019

World Mental Health Day Focuses on Suicide Prevention among the Youth

Mental Health manifests itself in various forms and can affect just about everyone, but only ten percent of the population receive mental health care in the country. That is because few people will take time to deal with this health condition. Today, on the occasion of Mental Health Day, the focus is on preventing suicide which is affecting youths and primarily males. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

October tenth is recognized annually across the world as Mental Health Day and the month is used to foster awareness on the many issues surrounding this psychological condition. Now, mental health is defined as the state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioural adjustment. The reality is that all persons at some point in their lives, given various factors, have had a mental health disorder—some are temporary and may be triggered by trauma or social issues and then there is the mental illness. The latter comes with stigma and many tend to correlate mental health with being “crazy.”


Eleanor Bennett

Eleanor Bennett, Technical Administrator, Mental Health, M.O.H.

“Whenever I ask anybody what do you know about mental health, they automatically start to talk about illnesses. Mental health is not necessarily about illnesses, but it is about how we are able to function in our daily lives at work, at home, how we are able to contribute to society and some of us are able to do that very well and some of us that are not able to do that very well.”


Amy Jex

Amy Jex, President, Mental Health Association

“When we look at it, the whole point of today, worldwide, is to decrease the stigma against mental health; to make people understand that health and mental health goes together. How are you feeling? What are you doing? Can you express what is going on? What trauma is happening in your life? What events? Are you breaking up with someone? All of these little things during the day. Did you have breakfast? Why didn’t you have breakfast? What are the conditions going on in your house? All of these things impact your mental health and how you do on a day to day basis. So when we look at these things, then we see it is not just with adults. The main people that we want to talk to and reduce that stigma are the young people because then we get to change their perception of what mental health is.”


On this occasion, the Ministry of Health has partnered with various agencies and groups to create awareness around the issue of suicide, which is included in the theme for the 2019 World Mental Health Day, “Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention.” It’s a discussion that needs to be had at an early stage. Along with the Department of Youth Services, PAHO and the Mental Health Association, several competitions have been hosted since September tenth, which is recognized as World Suicide Day, to promote best practices when it comes to persons seeking services for mental health issues. And today, following a brief ceremony this afternoon, four high schools from Belize and Cayo Districts participated in the ninth annual speech competition on this year’s theme.


Amy Jex

“We want to talk about what are triggers for suicide and how do we prevent suicide with these triggers. So that’s the gist for today. This is the ninth annual speech contest so we will have four schools participating this year and they will all have a slightly different take on the topic. The nice thing that we are doing today is that we are also wrapping up some of the things that we started during the Suicide Prevention Day. Because it is celebrated on the tenth of September, the Mental Health Association, along with the Ministry of Health had an event and launched two contests: an essay contest and a video contest. So today we are announcing the winners for those.”


About ten percent of the population receive mental health care in Belize. The most common condition that people seek help for is anxiety disorders; then depression, and schizophrenia which is a severe mental disorder that needs a lot of management. So how do you identify someone that is going through a mental health condition?


Eleanor Bennett

“If you see one of your friends or relatives having a drastic change in their behaviour, maybe they used to enjoy certain things and then they stop enjoying it. Or let’s say they start to drink alcohol frequently or more than they used to. If you see them withdrawing from people; not going places. In adolescents, we look for failing grades; we look for erratic emotions. Those things signal a problem. It might not mean that that person has a diagnosis, but it means that there is a problem. And I think we have to catch problems early if we want to prevent serious mental health issues from developing.   By nature, we are affected by things that are happening around us. So if we lose somebody important to us and we experience loss, we are temporarily not able to function mentally the way we used to, but for most people, they are going to be able to come back or bounce back or their resilient; they are able to come back from where they were. But for some people, because of various issues that’s happening with them, they will not able to. Those people we say have mental health problems and if they are not properly taken care of, may develop a mental disorder.”


Anybody experiencing suicidal thoughts is asked to go to mental health clinics located across the country. Treatment is free of cost; no appointment is needed. Emergency care is always available. Duane Moody for News Five.

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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