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Oct 10, 2012

Depression: A Global Crisis

World Mental Health Day was first celebrated internationally twenty years ago and locally, this year activities were held throughout the country in observance of the day. The World Health Organization estimates that by 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of world disability and by 2030 it is expected to be the largest contributor to the disease burden. This is why this year’s theme is “Depression: A Global Crisis”. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports on the local activities.


Delahnie Bain, Reporting

An official ceremony at the B.T.L. Park this morning, was one of numerous activities held in Belize and internationally in observation of World Mental Health Day.  The theme this year is “Depression: A Global Crisis” and Psychiatrist, Dr. Claudina Ellington Cayetano says the day is all about creating awareness.


Claudina Ellington Cayetano

Dr. Claudina Ellington Cayetano, Clinical Advisor, Mental Health Program, MOH

“Because there’s a lot of stigma whenever you talk about mental illness and so because we tend to associate mental health with mental illness and people do suffer from mental illnesses, but because of the stigma people don’t seek help. So I think this is one day that is dedicated to create awareness.  You have someone who suffers from depression and depression can come in many forms. People have physical symptoms, people have psychological symptoms, but they can dismiss it because of the stigma. So chances are that one of the unfortunate outcomes is that they can suicide and people should not kill themselves because of an illness that is treatable.”


Dr. Gerardo de Cosio, the Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization representative, spoke about the global effects of depression.


Gerardo de Cosio

Dr. Gerardo de Cosio, PAHO/WHO Representative

“One of the biggest mental health problems is depression, a global crisis. Around three hundred fifty million people suffer from depression globally and it affects people of all ages, backgrounds and incomes. Depression can affect us, our family or friends. We need to know how to prevent it; how and where to seek help. Depression is the main cause of disability worldwide, ranking the first in terms of loss due to disability and contributing to the global burden of disease. Recent studies have shown that many adolescents also suffer from depression.”


Locally, there are numerous initiatives in place to improve services to patients with depression and other mental health conditions.


Dr. Gerardo de Cosio

“In our continuous effort to strengthen the health system in the area of mental health, the Pan American Health Organization has engaged in supporting activities to improve the primary care at the national level. The Grand Challenge Project, a country cooperation initiative between the government of Belize and PAHO will engage in the next three years in addressing alcohol addiction, other drugs, mental health and how it affects the growth within the health sector in a multi-disciplinary approach.”


Kathy Esquivel

Kathy Esquivel, Secretary, Mental Health Association

“We have also been working on opening a resource center that can provide non medical support and we will open it next month. It will be at the end of the Vernon Street; we’re gonna be inviting you all. There will be a hot meal; hopefully more than one, we’d like to provide breakfast as well as lunch. There will be clothes, there will be entertainment and later along the road, we’ll be looking at income generation.”


Dr. Marjorie Parks, Deputy Director, Mental Health Services

“The mental health program has invested in programs to train primary health care providers. I am proud to be associated with the program; in fact as Dr. De Cosio mentioned, this program is a model in the Caribbean and in other countries. They also have ongoing education of the nurse practitioners and medical doctors also. This type of approach helps to keep mental health on the front burner of the health agenda and it links services providing continuity of care.”


But Dr. Marjorie Parks, the Deputy Director of Metal Health Services, says there is still a long way to go.


Dr. Marjorie Parks 

“Despite, these successes in mental health, there are persistent challenges such as the inability to provide integrated care, the existence of social stigma and discrimination that discourages patients from seeking care, shortage of specialized personnel and limited access to medicine contribute to the problem.”


Dr. Claudina Cayetano

Marjorie Parks

“The Ministry is very supportive for this day, not only in the city. We have activities in every district from Punta Gorda to Corozal. In Punta Gorda they have walks, in Dangriga they also have health walks and they have a balloon lift off. Belmopan had a walk this morning, Orange Walk is having a debate and Corozal had a walk and Belize City; every district we encouraged them to have some kind of activities to call attention to the importance of mental health.”


Delahnie Bain for News Five.


Aside from the official ceremony, the Mental Health Program will be having its annual banquet on October twentieth at the Chateau Caribbean in Belize City. 

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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1 Response for “Depression: A Global Crisis”

  1. Rod says:

    This is a huge problem in Belize every body is depressed because of judas barrow and this useless incompetent impotent gov. Don’t even ask about the mental health of the children in this country because they have to watch murders rapes break ins in homes no wonder our children are failing in schools as of today we have the worse scores in schools in the history of this country what does this tell you .

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