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Dec 2, 2022

Minister of Human Development to Present Cabinet Paper to Address Homelessness/Mental Illness  

Dolores Balderamos Garcia

The Mental Health Association today wrote to Mayor Bernard Wagner regarding recent comments he made about institutional solutions to mental health issues. In its release, the association states that while it fully understands the frustration of the mayor, it believes that the issues are far more complex than locking people up and out of sight. The release goes on to say that the problems faced today aren’t the result of de-institutionalization, but rather as a result of inadequate application of community-based care. In their statement, M.H.A. suggests that the Belize City Council offers its support to the association to provide greater care for the homeless and mentally ill population of Belize City through none-institutional housing, acute medical care, and community mental health care. Today, we caught up with Dolores Balderamos Garcia, the Minister of Human Development, and asked her about her ministry’s response to the growing mental health and homelessness crisis in Belize City. Here is what she had to say.

 

Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development

“Cabinet is taking full cognizance of this; we are looking at it carefully. What it will mean is that the Ministries of Human Development and Health, along with the Police Department, we will have to do our best to address the homeless situation. In a recent study we had close to seventy-five percent of the homeless people who have some kind of mental issue. So, there is mental illness. Whereas the policy of the Ministry of Health is not to institutionalize mentally ill people, we have to work together because there aren’t enough shelters and safe spaces for mentally ill people when they may be in an acute stage. So, shortly we will be putting a paper to Cabinet for the corporation between the Ministry of Health and Human Development and the Police when we need them and will be giving more special attention. If we have to put on one or two more social workers and we have to put on one or two more psychiatric nurse practitioners we will certainly do so, because we must take the issue seriously. I am very sad that we had a loss of life by the big bridge because of a mentally ill person. There is nothing against the police. The police are trying their best. But, I would like to say that perhaps there is a need for more training as to how to disarm a dangerous person with a weapon without having to go to the level of killing them. So, I am very sorry about that, but I can tell you that government is taking the issue of mental illness and homelessness very seriously.”


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