Psychiatrist bats for larger mental health budget slice

Dr. Benjamin wants more to be spent on mental health
Dr. Benjamin wants more to be spent on mental health

Consultant Psychiatrist at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) Dr. Griffin Benjamin has called for a larger slice of the national health budget to be spent on mental health.

Dr. Benjamin was addressing the eighth annual University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus Dominica Bernard A. Sorhaindo Memorial Lecture on Thursday, August 20, 2015 at the Fort Young Hotel Conference Room.

He argued that in Canada and the United States of America, mental health budget is over 20 percent of the national health budget and according him, a report from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), pointed to the low level of spending on mental health in the Caribbean.

“In 2007, Barbados spent seven percent of its health budget on mental health, and subsided to outspend all the other islands in the Caribbean. Montserrat, a British colony did similar,” the Psychiatrist noted.

He questioned why Dominica spends only two percent of its health budget on mental health.

“Dominica spent only two percent of its health budget dealing with mental health,” he stated. “Why are we spending only two percent of our health budget on mental health, when mental health accounts for as much as 24 percent of the disease burden in the Americas? For a dollar that is spent, one quarter of that needs to be spent on mental health. Most of you might not agree at this point but the outcome, the consequences, is vagrancy.”

He pointed out that “the most blessed thing about mental health care is that most of the treatment and medical care needed by our patients can be obtained right here in Dominica.”

Benjamin delivered the lecture under the topic: Health Care & the New Frontier: Can people in the vagrant community overcome rejection?

The series of lectures was named after Dr. Bernard Sorhaindo, Dominica’s first graduate of The UWI and one of the country’s most celebrated medical doctors who was also an advocate for the availability of proper health care facilities and personnel in order to improve the quality of life of Dominicans.

The lecture was done in collaboration with the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus Dominica, and Optical Services Ltd. and Dominica Social Security.

Disclaimer: The comments on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of Inc. All comments are approved by before they are posted. We never censor based on political or ideological points of view, but we do try to maintain a sensible balance between free speech and responsible moderating.

We will delete comments that:

  • violate or infringe the rights of any person, are defamatory or harassing or include personal attacks
  • are abusive, profane or offensive
  • contain material which violates or encourages others to violate any applicable law
  • promote hatred of any kind
  • refer to people arrested or charged with a crime as though they had been found guilty
  • contain links to "chain letters", pornographic or obscene movies or graphic images
  • are excessively long and off-message

See our full comment/user policy/agreement.


  1. Dominican
    August 24, 2015

    Instead of the injections , we most start to invest more on counselling part , because to often person complain that the Consultant Psychiatrist dont listen to what they have to say instead on first encounter administer injections instead of the counselling to patients .I think the we should focus more on and ask for more in the budget to go towards councling Dr

  2. The Real Facts
    August 21, 2015

    On the subject of tolerating vagrants, I doubt if anyone in the world is tolerant of them. For one, they are not clean. When they approach people the stench alone could turn them off.
    They could be a nuisance. Some who beg and who are not given money could become violent. They could harass others who are going about their business and as much as harm them. Who appreciates this?
    These are people, if they do not have a mental problem are in need of counseling and discipline. They should be rehabilitated.
    Speak to their family who would be able to provide an insight into why they they have resorted to this type of living. The problem may lie with domestic problems.
    Dominica is a small country. It is my feeling vagrancy could be controlled and even eradicated. No one should be homeless and out in the streets, living a leisure life. What a waste of God-given allotted time.
    Some of them could be helped. Train them to be useful nationals.

    • The Real Facts
      August 21, 2015

      Build a hostel to house them. Employ reliable staff to supervise them.
      Teach them to learn a trade. Whatever talent they have needs to be developed.
      A lot could be done for them to help them stay out of the streets. After healthcare, this should be a government priority.

  3. The Real Facts
    August 21, 2015

    Mental Health should be regarded as Health Care. The government should contribute a certain amount of funds to this.
    Life could be tough and some people are unable to cope with it. Anxiety, stress, domestic and employment problems could be contributing factors.
    I have considered this. A baby is born and looks normal. He/she grows up to be a normal child, attend school and attained adulthood. Some have obtained jobs and are therefore employed. Some get married and have children. However somewhere along the line, for whatever reason some of them, even as young children, develop mental problems. What happened? What went wrong?
    I do think while treating them or prior to treating them, it should be ascertained what caused this problem. I am aware that one of the reasons is due to substance abuse. This is why they should be treated early. With proper treatment, if their mental illness is not too far gone, could it be reversed?

  4. general Joan
    August 21, 2015

    Your right doc,i don’t agree.i don’t agree that a quarter of every dollar should be spent on mental healthcare and the fact that you brought it up is actually a cause for concern.i had no idea things were so bad,seems like the whole country’s losing their seems mental illness is the struggle of dealing with other people’s demons.from what i gather it seems like nothing more than a case of my solution,i think, is to say your prayers, go church and to love one another as the creator has loved us. :-D :-D

  5. mine
    August 21, 2015

    I dont trust this man he will anything to make the government look bad.

  6. Justkum
    August 21, 2015

    Mental Health in Dominica and probably the rest of the OECS remains low on the budget because unfortunately mental health is still not understood and sometimes regarded as a Taboo subject.
    Our brain function is liable to breakdown just like any other part of our bodies, and surely requires just attention.
    Stress and the pressures of life continue to mount and contribute to our increasing mental health patients. They require attention to be reincorporated into society and remain productive citizens..At the Psych Unit I saw so many young men with mental issues, some brought on by substance abuse..

  7. Attendee
    August 21, 2015

    Nothing that are not in the annuals of psychiatric history in the region certainly I could have listened to DBS radio’s synopsis.
    can you recall Dr.Andre’s rendition despite the fields it was inclusive and exciting public participation was at a high.
    Different forums I agree but lacking in zeal.

  8. Chakademus
    August 21, 2015

    That’s a very laudable goal, but are you willing to pay for it? Paying in this case means taxes because that’s how a country gets it’s money. Alternatively, which parts of the government’s budget do you propose to cut to be able to afford it? Surely you do not suggest borrowing to subsidize what would be a recurring expense? Since we are dealing with finite resources, the question of where the money is coming from must be answered.

    • Excuse Me?
      August 21, 2015

      You were clearly not at the Lecture, and as such, you are grabbing on to one notion and playing ‘Smart Alec.’ In fact, what the good Doctor actually said last night was that only 2% of the HEALTH budget was being spent on mental health issues. I don’t think that asking for more is a laudable goal considering the fact that one in three people in our region suffers from at least one mental health disorder! And next time you want to talk about “finite resources” remind the Government of that! During Election Campaigns, funding and promises seem to suggest that there is no such word as “finite.” Dr. Benjamin has done years of research in his field, give him a break to share his work please.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

:) :-D :wink: :( 8-O :lol: :-| :cry: 8) :-? :-P :-x :?: :oops: :twisted: :mrgreen: more »

 characters available