Minister Timothy. Photo credit: www.goccp.com

As Dominica joins the rest of the world in observing World Mental Health Day today, Minister for Health Julius Timothy is calling on Dominicans to treat their mental health as a treasure and “do every thing we can to preserve and protect it”

In an address for the occasion, Mr. Timothy referred to the theme for the observance “Depression, a global crisis”. He pointed to what he described as an alarming report which indicates that depression has become the leading cause of disability worldwide affecting more than 350 million people.

He said research indicates that less than 25% of people with depression are currently receiving treatment and studies show that the high level of stigma associated with mental illness prevent many people from seeking or using treatment.

“Health Care workers around the island believe that many Dominicans are presenting to their nurses, pharmacists, counselors, pastors and religious leaders and of course medical doctors, seeking help to cope with life’s many challenging problems.Unfortunately too many persons do not get any treatment for this real and dangerous sickness called major depressive disorder.” Timothy stated.

He said the Ministry of Health recognizes depression as a common illness affecting a large section of our population.”We believe that most persons who are affected seek some help from their primary care givers. Unfortunately, too often their complaints and behaviour are minimized and interpreted as normal sadness common to all persons but we now know that there’s a major difference between a person who is just sad and a person who suffers depression.Both sadness and depression need family and psycho social support and in order to recover the depressed need treatment.”

The Minister lamented the fact that the general public does not accept depression as a disease like any other disease but he said there’s hope for persons suffering with depression .

“Depression is a treatable medical illness. The treatment available is very effective. In Dominica, we have ther the human resource needed. In addition, the medications required to control the effects of depression are readily available at our pharmacies”
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Mr. Timothy said government is committed to improving access to community mental health services for all clients by empowering the district and hospital staff to recognize depression in their patients and provide timely medical social and psychological interventions.

The ministry of Health is embarking on a one week campaign to raise public awareness on the impact of depression on “individuals, families and the country as a whole,” according to the minister.