Dr. Benjamin wants long term solution in tackling mental health

Some of those who took part in the Mental Health Walk on Friday
Some of those who took part in the Mental Health Walk on Friday

While admitting that there have been significant improvements in dealing with mental health in Dominica, Consultant Psychiatrist Dr. Griffin Benjamin says a long term solution is crucial in effectively dealing with the issue.

Benjamin told DNO in an interview on the occasion of World Mental Health Day on Friday that there are some patients that have been treated, have moved on and have done well, but there are some, such as the vagrants seen around Roseau, who require additional help.

“Some of our patients require public assistance, they need society and government to do much better, give them a better opportunity to survive and to succeed,” he said. “I think the housing solution need to include persons with mental disability. What we call the vagrants or the social destitute on the streets, there must be a long term solution. We cannot just admit them, treat them and just stash them back into the begging life that they are having right now.”

The Consultant Psychiatrist noted that society must decide to provide the so-called vagrants with the basics means of survival such as food, clothing and shelter.

“Something long term not for two weeks,” he said.

He also informed that proposals have been made to the government “so that they can get on board the idea of how the other countries are solving these issues by simply caring for those who cannot care for themselves.”

“So the challenge is for the government now to realize that those persons with mental disabilities cannot and will not care for themselves and require public assistance to do that,” he said.

Benjamin noted that some successes in treating mental health issues in Dominica including the patients’ willingness to corporate with staff at the psychiatric unit by taking their medication and in turn the joy this brings to families.

He also mentioned there have been improvments in patients’ quality of life such as furthering of education, holding down jobs and maintaining families.

“I think this is an improvement to what I met 15 years ago when I became the phyciatrist and more so the facility that we have now, the service we provide, the occupational therapy that we organize, the family integrative, the clinics we go around the island,” he said. “The fact that there are more recreational and sporting activities that our patients do, patients are also more included in family life and in public life than they were before, so those were the achievements that we have had.”

The main activity in observance of World Mental Health Day is an awareness walk from Gimmit to the Dame Eugenia Charles Boulevard which saw 40 people participating.

It was done to raise the awareness among the populace of the issues affecting mental health and the issues that are important to those affected by mental health and also the professionals who help them.

The focus of this year’s World Mental Health Day is the so-called forgotten disease, Schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that generally appears in late adolescence or early adulthood – however, it can emerge at any time in life. It is one of many brain diseases that may include delusions, loss of personality (flat affect), confusion, agitation, social withdrawal, psychosis, and bizarre behaviour.

There are about 1,300 people who have been registered as affected by the disease in Dominica and about 65 percent of them recovered and is doing well, Dr. Benjamin revealed.

Mental Health Day has been observed globally for the past 22 years, it is being held under the theme “Living with Schizophrenia.”

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  1. Pondera
    October 13, 2014

    Very important point raised by the Psychiatrist. Congratulations Dr Benjamin and team for a remarkable work in Mental Health. I must say that this practice of medicine has been well served by our long serving Psychiatrist, Dr Benjamin. Dominica must count itself very blessed to have a Psychiatrist like Dr Benjamin. He has speared no effort to advocate for the well being and rights of his patients. Dr Benjamin remains well read and well respected among his peers in the region. I am advised that his service is the envy of many Caribbean countries. Any one who has had an experience of Psychiatric services over the last 20 years in Dominica, can and must conclude that Dr Benjamin has brought respectability to the practice of mental health. He remains a formidable son of the soil where specialist medical practice is concern.

    I salute you Sir and continue to serve your clients/patients with the dedication that you have displayed over the years.

  2. The Facts
    October 12, 2014

    I am not doubting the capability and expertise of Dr. Benjamin. Whenever I hear that some people are mentally ill, I wonder what caused it.
    There is a reason for all things, all illnesses. The root of this problem should be researched, i.e., their lifestyle from childhood/youth, the manner in which they were nurtured. This could probably help to identify the cause of their problem as a start to medically assisting them. This is also the responsibility of psychiatrists.
    They also need a good dose in worship and prayer of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Healer of all our ills.

    • Anonymous
      October 13, 2014


  3. tina Alexander
    October 11, 2014

    The most common symptoms experienced by those suffering from schizophrenia are paranoia and auditory hallucinations…..these cause the bizarre behaviour and withdrawal. Usually the person does not believe they are ill. Anyone noticng these symptoms in a loved one should get the patient to see their doctor as early as possible and advise them to avoid smoking weed. It is possible to live a stable productive life on medication…..do not hope it will go away….get help

  4. Jaime Lewis
    October 10, 2014

    Dr. Benjamin has raised a significant concern with reference to government’s role in caring for those so-called vagrants who parade the streets of Roseau, unable to function effectively in society because of their mental illness. This is a very serious issue, and both government and non-governmental organizations are needed to come together to address the needs of people who are living with mental illness. Proper housing, medication management, supported employment, socialization, and some form of normalization are essential if they are to be integrated into society. We cannot continue to ignore this segment of our population.

    • Zuma
      October 13, 2014

      I do agree the government has to do something’s to assist ASAP. Don’t let the world see our brothers and sisters in the streets. The are someone’ s son daughter brother sister. Help these people. Most probably they can’t help. This is here the social system comes in

  5. October 10, 2014

    We need an Autism week & walk.
    The Health Ministry ought to step on this one.
    The Ministry has neglected Autism in this country and more so over the last few months well.

    • Kubuli Kountry
      October 11, 2014

      And Alzheimer’s too. There are many more ppl with Alzheimer’s right here in D.A. than Autistic ppl. This is based on research.

  6. Ca ka fete
    October 10, 2014

    Great job to those who actively work towards helping in the recovery of the mentally ill on island however, who treats the mental health professionals with mental health issues? The consultant spoke of the patients’ cooperation with staff and how it helps in their treatment but what about the cooperation of the Consultant with the staff? Are the mental health professionals working in an environment which makes it conducive to continue to provide their expertise to the public?…

    Food for thought… :?: :-?

  7. October 10, 2014

    I counted 16 peeps is that the best we can do as a nation? Where is TIm ,Skrit & St.Jean: it’s Education and Health plus National Security and all three were absent.
    Way to go.
    The Sewo tonight takes precedence and guess where it begins?
    At Crazy Coconut(s)

    • Whatever
      October 10, 2014

      @ Concerned Citizen: The caption under the picture said “…”Some of those who took part in the Mental Health Walk on Friday.”

      Reading is fundamental!!! and where were you and your family members on this walk?, always looking for others to do.. Learn to read before you jump.

      • October 10, 2014

        lol Still concerned Whatever! You got a problem with that? it’s only a reported observation.
        Am 6000 miles away Whatever . If I were close I would be the consultant psychiatrist. whenever I drop in I’ll look U up for an evaluation.

      • October 11, 2014

        lol! That makes U illusional cousin to the main theme of his interview Friday.
        Dif between em is illusions are/can be real. Like in adding more to what there is in the photo. dah!

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