Health officials are expecting the newly launched Occupational Therapy (OT) building to remodel mental health services in Dominica.
The facility, located on the grounds of the Acute Psychiatric Unit (APU), was officially opened Friday. It is to provide physio and psycho-therapy to mentally ill patients, but will only offer services to those wanting help.
“Clients recovering from acute mental illnesses can enjoy what we call transitional care, that is care between hospital and their homes. Persons with long-term mental disabilities can participate in rehabilitative care, enabling them to do things that they would have not normally may have given a chance to do; persons in social crisis in the community may be provided with some form of emergency intervention,” Consultant Psychiatrist Griffin Benjamin said at Friday’s handing over ceremony.
“The OT facility will be a voluntary service; we will not be going to apprehend anybody and bring them for therapy in this way,” Benjamin said.
Dr Griffin Benjamin said the new facility demonstrates a paradigm shift in the level of care administered to mentally ill person in Dominica. He said patients will be exposed to professional mental care delivered at the highest level within the Ministry of Health.
The government of Japan has funded the project with grant assistance of US$94, 450, while the Dominica government has put in thousands of dollars into the project in the provision of land and furnishings.
Minister for Health Julius Timothy has endorsed Occupational Therapy, saying many Dominicans are in need of specialized mental health care.
He noted the health ministry is particularly concerned about the high numbers of serious mental health patients in Dominica, who cannot care for themselves.
Timothy said although over 1,500 persons in Dominica are registered patients of the Community Mental Health Programme and many more are in need of quality specialized mental health care.
“Recent Caribbean and Latin American studies indicate that a high percentage of people who need mental health care do not receive it. For example major depression affects about six percent of our population yet three in every five depressed persons never receive adequate mental health care,” he said.
Timothy said very soon, the Drug Prevention Unit and the Psychiatric Unit will merge to become the Community Mental Health Department of the Ministry of Health.
The Occupational Therapy Building is worth over US$100, 000, Timothy said.
Meantime, Project Coordinator Dave Laudat said under the new minster of health, the clock has turned for the better for mental health in Dominica.
The Second Secretary of the Embassy of Japan in Trinidad and Tobago Taku Suzuki told yestereday morning’s function that he hopes the project will encourage the Princess Margaret Hospital to provide appropriate care for mentally ill persons here.