Saturday 19 September, 2020

SLPYO urges Govt to invest in mental healthcare initiatives

The Saint Lucia Labour Party Youth Organisation (SLPYO) is calling on government to invest in mental health against the backdrop of recent suicides.

In a release the SLPYO states that it "offers its unconditional condolences to the families who recently lost loved ones to suicide."

The release continues: "The SLPYO acknowledges that no one government can totally eliminate the scourge of suicide; however, it is incumbent on the government of the day to assure the citizenry that mental healthcare and suicide prevention remain a priority.

Data on government programs for community mental healthcare clinics, outreach and accessibility to such services show that that more needs to be done.

For example, it is regrettable that the 2019/20 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure reveal that the wards of the Boys Training Centre were refused critical psychosocial care due to a “lack [of] adequate space” at the facility.

This demonstrates clearly this government’s uncaring attitude toward the youth and its disinterest in making investments to facilitate our development While The SLPYO lauds the establishment of the #203 Suicide Prevent hotline, we strongly urge the Government to consider the following:

  • Increase funding, human resource capacity for mental health services
  • Provide free access to mental health services for poor and low-income households
  • Improve data collection on patient care at common based mental health clinics
  • Make discussions and sensitization on mental health/ suicide prevention in schools and places of employment mandatory
  • Require the Department of Health to develop and distribute mental health/suicide prevention action plans for primary and secondary schools and employers
  • Abolish sections 94[B] and 95 of the Criminal Code which seeks to imprison individuals who attempt suicide

The SLPYO appreciates the complexities of understanding and dealing with suicide which has so far claimed seven lives in St Lucia in 2020.

Without adequate funding for intervention programs and initiatives, without sufficient human resource capacity to administer psychosocial care in the community and without a commitment from the government to prioritize the health and wellness of the people – more lives will be lost, more families will mourn.

The SLPYO appeals to the Government to heed the silent screams of Saint Lucia’s youth, the marginalized and the vulnerable afflicted by mental health issues instead of paying more attention to glitzy election campaign projects. Economic gain will count for naught if the health and wellness of the people, the true drivers of an economy is neglected."

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