CHILDREN of St. Lucia who require psychiatric care and treatment will no longer be housed in the same space as adults.
This was a perennial problem which administrators and caregivers at the National Mental Wellness Centre faced over the years and decided to approach the Ministry of Health for support in addressing this situation.
During a brief opening ceremony last week Minister for Health and Wellness Senator Mary Isaac lauded the initiative by the staff. She said it is a demonstration of the concern which they show for their clients.
Said Isaac: “The staff at the Mental Wellness Centre as well as the Ministry of Health recognize that there is this need and they were not very comfortable with the fact that young people were being kept in the same area, in the same location as adults with mental issues. So, it is really very good that it came from the people who are in the healthcare institution. It goes very far to show you that they are very concerned about the treatment that they give, about their patients in their area of care and that is very comforting to know.”
According to Permanent Secretary, Felix St. Hill, the unit to deal with children was long overdue. He too commended the staff for their output and observed the need for a special facility and training in order to deal with children with psychiatric needs.
He said: “The facilities are much different from what obtains for the adult population at the centre. For instance you have playgrounds for children where they would feel much more comfortable in the setting. The staff at the mental wellness centre have always been well trained. The problem we have had is to expose them to the facilities to actually deal with children as a unit. So, now I guess they are free to express those skills.”
A child friendly environment is also an aid and therapy to restoring good mental health. That’s the view of the Executive Director of the Mental Wellness Centre, Charmaine Hippolyte Thomas.
“The area where the adults are kept is not as child friendly or conducive if you want to call it that, for the children. So up here at the new Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Unit we really have in place what we call a little more comfort and even the environment being a little more child friendly so that children can be restored to good mental health and of course the families will be quite pleased.”
‘Psychological and Mental Health First Aid for all’ is the theme under which the National Mental Wellness Centre operates for the year 2016.