Mental health secretariat for Guyana amid concern about suicides

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Friday February 25, 2016 – Concern about increasing cases of suicide in the country has prompted government to move towards establishing a Mental Health Secretariat which will better coordinate of mental health related services, interventions and policies.

Finance Minister Winston Jordan made the disclosure, saying that issues related to suicide and depression would receive the secretariat’s attention.

“The rising incidence of suicide is raising an alarm,” he said.

A total of GUY$16.3 million (US$78,666) has been allocated for the Secretariat.

Jordan says a multi-stakeholder approach will be taken to addressing the issue, including the commencement of a commission of inquiry and the development of an emergency suicide prevention action plan.

That plan will involve gathering data to establish a baseline for monitoring and evaluation. Data collection and research will include gathering epidemiological statistics, demographic information, and research on driving factors contributing to designated rates per region.

In addition, an analysis will be done at the regional and national level, including maps and profiles for targeted interventions.

This plan will also entail training for secondary school teachers and students, to allow them to be able to identify signs of suicide. Further, preparatory work has been advanced for the introduction of a psychiatry programme at the University of Guyana.

The Mental Health Secretariat will offer training and services to both professionals and persons seeking related services.

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