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Gov’t happy with status of mental health care services


When it comes to the delivery of mental health care services in Barbados, information suggests that the care provided locally, is comparable to that of more developed countries.

The above was recently revealed by Health Minister Donville Inniss, who has noted that the country has budgeted well to ensure adequate provision of mental health care services and a good ratio of mental health professionals, as needed for the local population.

“An examination of the status of mental health care services in Barbados, has revealed that despite the work that is yet to be done to accomplish the vision for accessible, comprehensive and fully integrated services, the level of care currently provided and the allocation of resources to this sector, is comparable with that of the more developed countries” Inniss recently commented.

“Over the past five years, approximately 7% of the national health budget was utilised by the Psychiatric Hospital. This does not include additional expenditure for operation of the community inpatient unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital or expenditure for the purchase of psychotropic drugs by the Barbados Drug Services,” he said.

“This level of care is also verified through the WHO (World Health Organ-isation) AIMS (Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems) Report for Barbados, which indicates that the ratio of mental health care professionals to the population is in keeping with international standards” Inniss pointed out.

The Health Minister revealed that during the reporting period, 212 persons worked in public mental health facilities, including 11 psychiatrists, 8 medical doctors (not specialized in psychiatry), 107 nurses, 24 psychologists, 5 social workers, 7 occupational therapists, and 50 other health or mental health workers. There was ratio of 4.08 psychiatrists per 100,000 persons.

Inniss further revealed that since the publication of this Report, the staffing complement for the community-based services carried out by the Psychiatric Hospital has also been strengthened, with the establishment and filling of sixteen community mental health nurse positions.

In addition, during August of last year, the number of consultant psychiatrists serving in the community, was increased from one to three, providing specialized services within each of the polyclinics, on a shared basis.

Acknowledging the need for the reform and modernization of local mental health services however, Inniss remarked that a multi-faceted approach will be needed. This will require the resources and expertise of a number of legislative, social, health and economic entities, he said. New models of financing would also need to be examined with the re-organisation and regulation of services, Inniss also remarked.

He also asserted that incorporating structures for involvement of family members as important partners in care provision, is another aspect of mental health care reform, that must be considered.

“Enhanced care without this participation does not encourage self-reliance on the part of families, and this continues to place total responsibility for care in the hands of health care professionals” Inniss said. (RSM)