Tuesday 22 September, 2020

'We need to invest in mental health in St Lucia' — psychiatrist

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Julius Gilliard says more needs to be done as it relates to mental health care in Saint Lucia.

Gillard's observance comes after the island recorded its seventh suspected suicide for the year on Sunday, August 2, which is its second in less than a week.

"We need to spend a lot more money on the mental health system of our country so that crime can go down, suicide can go down, productivity of our citizens can go up and persons will not feel despaired or as hopeless as they usually feel to make them see suicide as an option," Gilliard says.

On Sunday, the latest victim — a young man from Bocage — allegedly took his life after hinting numerous times on social media that he would do so.

News of his death resulted in many advocating on social media for persons to speak up to prevent similar occurances. 

One such person was renowned music producer Thygeson 'Penn' Joseph.

Cycandra Paul, who's brother died by suicide in January 2020, also chimed in:

According to Dr Gilliard, mental health should be part of the school curriculum.

"We need to focus more on teaching students on how to manage distressing situations. This usually comes with a lot of emotional output, how do you manage all of these emotions when they start coming out. Do you lash out with impulsive behaviour that can get you in trouble with the law? Do you lash out at yourself with a behaviour that can cost you your life or do you seek help?"

Another major issue he observed is the stigma attached to mental health issues and the failure on the part of men to seek help.

"The men in Saint Lucia, do they know where help is available? Do they know about the helpline and if it can assist them? Do they know about the counsellors or the other mental health systems available and if they think it can assist them? We have a suicide and then there is a lot of talk about mental health for the next few days and that just disappears until the next suicide," Gilliard said.

If you feel you need support, please contact the suicide helpline at 203.

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