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Few relatives visit patients at Mental Health Centre

Few relatives visit patients at Mental Health Centre


The Senior Nursing Officer (SNO) at the Mental Health Centre is calling on the families of the patients there to be more supportive.{{more}}

SNO Ynolde Smart told Searchlight during an interview on Wednesday, October 13, 2010, that the lack of support from family members is just one of the major problems encountered at the Centre.

The Mental Health Centre is celebrating Mental Health Week from Monday, October 11, to Sunday, October 17, under the theme “Good friends help us bounce back.”

The week of activities, which included an Open Day on Tuesday, was described by Smart as “very disappointing” as only a few family members came to visit the patients at the Centre.

Smart added that the lack of family support is causing overcrowding at the institution which now holds 187 patients. “It is so (overcrowded) because families are refusing to accept their relatives back into their homes. So if they have no where to go, they have no choice but to come back,” she said.

Furthermore, Smart stated that family members, when admitting relatives to the Centre, bring them without any clothing or personal items, which she stated puts a strain on the Centre’s budget, as they will have to provide clothing and towels and other items for the patients. She reminded persons to bring along essentials such as toothpaste, soap and towels whenever they are admitting a patient to the Centre.

“If they go to the hospital they will take these things…they probably don’t see it as a hospital,” Smart said, adding that the institution is not meant to house every patient who is admitted, but will release patients once they have been treated for their condition.

Psychiatrist Dr. Amrie Morris, who was also present during the interview, stated that there is a myth among Vincentians that every patient admitted to the Centre can live there.

“Once we have the family support, it will ease the hospital from the overcrowding, and I think that the persons can go back into the society and start to function,” she said. She further encouraged business places and employers not to reject the outpatients, as most of them are well skilled. Smart said that employers should encourage the patients to take their medication.

Smart also indentified some major improvements needed at the Centre, the most important of which was the need for a segregated approach when treating patients.

Elaborating on the issue, Dr. Morris stated that the infrastructure of the Centre does not allow for patients to be treated separately based on their diagnosis. She stated that that is what “makes the environment so chaotic”, as they cannot treat the different types of illnesses separately.

The most common mental illness treated at the Centre, Morris said, is Schizophrenia. They also attend to persons with bipolar disorders, behavioral disorders, mental retardation, drug and substance abuse and epilepsy.