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Feb 7, 2023

Ministry of Health & Wellness on Mental Health Policy

The death of Nicole Polonio, a mother of five from San Pedro, brings into sharp focus how mental health – and especially mental health crisis are handled – is a real and concerning issue. As we’ve reported, attempts were made to get the thirty-four-year-old some type of medical intervention, but that did not happen. Instead, she was restrained with chains and padlocks on a bed and later died from positional asphyxia. Today, Health and Wellness Minister Kevin Bernard told News Five that a comprehensive mental health policy is currently being devised.


Kevin Bernard

Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health & Wellness

“Mental health is a key priority for our ministry and yes, we recently brought on board a psychiatrist to help with that. Doctor Musa has been very instrumental in putting together a team that will look at the whole mental health policy. Now, mental health is not just about those who we see walking on the street, homeless. Sometimes we confuse homelessness with mental health, but it cross paths at some point. But going back to your question in terms of what we are doing, we have been putting priority in terms of how we are going to address mental health. Institutionalising someone is not always the answer. It’s making sure that those people have access to their medication, timely visits, monitoring. So there is a whole broad aspect in terms of how we target mental health. Cabinet, the prime minister a few years ago requested that both our ministry, the Ministry of Human Development, the Ministry of Home Affairs come together and work on a strategic plan. So Doctor Musa is our focal point in working along with our team in the ministry along with those individuals to push the mental health agenda and how we are going to target. It is sad to see what happened to the young lady. I want to offer my deepest condolences. I don’t support the action that was taken by the family. Personally, I am a human being; I would not have wanted that for any of my family members. I cannot speak to the circumstances of that. I have not gotten any full details of it, but what is out there in the public, it would seem as if the person was just left there, taken advantage of and just tied up. But like I said, I cannot speak to that. But what I want to say is at the ministry, we are going to be putting a very strong policy together that we will have to take back to cabinet for final approval which I am pretty sure will be supported. And we will continue to work with our stakeholders because these are the people that will assist us to develop the right policy and that is why all of this ties into that whole health sector reform.”

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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